Two Missouri men have been charged with a hate crime for allegedly firing at least 50 pistol rounds into a church, causing damage.
The incident occurred in the early morning hours of March 18 in Morgan County, Mo., when four individuals allegedly were involved in the shooting of Clearview Mennonite Church. Two of the individuals were juveniles, ages 14 and 17. They were transported to a juvenile center in Camdenton, Mo., where they are being held, according to a statement from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
The other two were 18 and charged as adults.
“Arriving deputies located spent 9mm shell casings and obvious damage to the church,” the statement said. “After further investigation, it was discovered that not less than 50 rounds from 9mm pistols had been fired into the church. …. Three 9mm handguns, with ammunition, and a vehicle were seized.”
One of the adults was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action and first-degree property damage. The other was charged with first-degree property damage and armed criminal action. They are being held without bond, the statement said. They pleaded not guilty.
“The property damage is charged as a hate crime,” the statement said, adding it is an “ongoing investigation and evidence is continuing to be seized.”
Meanwhile, damage to a second church in Morgan County also is being investigated.
The damage is estimated to be at least $1,000, with bullets lodged in the ceiling, walls, windows and coat racks, according to KOMU.
A video posted on Snapchat showed four individuals “riding in a car, drinking beer and shooting handguns out of the windows,” KOMU said, quoting court documents.
Two church members told the television station that the acts likely were not targeting their building.
Morgan County is located about two hours southeast of Kansas City.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Caspar Benson
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.