Local church suffers $15,000 in damage after suspected hit and run

Members of Lighthouse for Jesus Church in Elizabethton are still trying to figure out who caused an estimated $15 thousand in damages. 

Church goer Garry Casteel and his son came across the alleged vandalism Thursday evening at approximately 8:00 pm, when Pastor Bill Younce was out of town. Casteel had spent the day at the church mowing the lawn and left the property for a few hours, when he believes the damage was done. Casteel says his son immediately called the police, who opened a report on the incident that night. 

Casteel said Sunday he doesn't know of anyone with a personal vendetta towards the church or the pastor. "I mean, pretty much everybody likes that man," he said. "Only enemy here, that's the devil," Younce joked. 

When News Channel 11 visited the scene Sunday, tire tracks and black paint chips that appeared to have fallen off a vehicle were visible, leading up to two busted heating and air units. Casteel pointed out minor structural damage to the church's brick exterior. The only damage inside the church appeared to be a gaping hole in the women's restroom, which Younce suspects resulted from the force of a collision. 

With no one to blame, the church will be forced to pay a $5 thousand insurance deductible on top of repair costs. They're also paying to install security cameras around the building's perimeter after what Younce calls an increase in vandalism incidents over the last 5 years. Younce says these include large holes in the church's street-side sign and several replaced mailboxes.

Casteel encourages the perpetrator to come forward: "Being truthful about what you do...it makes, it makes a big difference in this world. I believe coming forward, well it would help this situation a lot. It would take a lot of the burden off the church." 

Younce has faith the person who did this will pay them back, one way or another: "I may not get him, but He will." 




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