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Church burns after vandals strike
JASPER COUNTY-By: Leslie Rangel
Federal investigators are working tonight to determine if there is a link between vandalism that damaged a church and a fire that burned through the building.
Someone called the Jasper County Sheriff's Office shortly before four Monday morning to report smoke coming from the Northwest Buna Church of Christ off highway 96, North of Buna.
Investigators are trying to determine if the vandals set the fire or if it broke out accidentally while they were damaging the church.
Members of the congregation vow the damage won't shake their faith.
From the outside you can't see much of the damage, but inside the Northwest Buna Church of Christ, it's a different story.
"I got a text message about 5:50 this morning, my cousin is in the fire department, he said the church had caught fire and it had been vandalized," Joey carrell, a church member says.
Carrell sings in the church, he's been a member for 25 years and says it has always been peaceful here.
"This has never happened to us, we've never had anything like this, this is the first time we've had any problems in any way," Carrell said.
Even Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman was surprised to see what the vandals had done.
"They turned every pew in the church over, they even turned some pages out of hymn books," Newman says.
The back of the building shows an air conditioner unit the vandals flipped over.
Investigators are still trying to figure out why anyone would have wanted to do this.
"Church is a place to worship, not to go tear up," Newman said.
"We can't find any clues or anythign to anybody that had any hard feelings, we think it's something random, some teenagers or random violence," Carrell said.
The crime struck this congregation during a revival, but these church members vow it won't bring them down.
"We're going to maintain and continue on, we'll always be here," Carrell says.
If you have information about the vandalism and fire, call the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.