U.S. Airmen released on bond after being accused of vandalizing historic church
SUMTER, SC (WACH) ---Four U.S. Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base are out on bond after being accused of vandalism.
This after surveillance video captured photos of vandals spray painting satanic graffiti on the outside of Salem Black River Church in Sumter County. Deputy Ken Bell with the Sumter County Sherriff's Department said both the community and Shaw Airforce Base alerted deputies after seeing their photos on social media. "We're taking it, it was just a night of fun and games,” Bell said. “That really became more serious than they ever imagined."
They were arrested Thursday and charged with trespassing, malicious injury to a house of worship, and criminal conspiracy. “Shaw Airforce Base is just as embarrassed as we are by this,” Bell said. “And we don't hold them all in the same light as we do these individuals." First Lieutenant Alannah Staver released a statement about the matter saying, "The United States Airforce does not condone acts of vandalism, such behavior is not representative of the airmen of Shaw Airforce Base as a whole."
Bell said some church members were afraid to attend church services thinking the group would come back. The damages costing nearly $3,000. A price bell will serve as a lesson learned. "I would hope that these young people learn from their mistakes,” Bell said. “And are able to move forward and have a good career and good life ahead of them." Bond was set at $15,000 for each suspect.
The airmen are restricted to the military base and could face further disciplinary action.The next court date is set for December 1.
Shaw Airforce Base Released a statement about the incident.
Four Airmen assigned to Shaw were arrested Oct. 12, 2017 for allegedly vandalizing Salem Black River Church in Mayesville, South Carolina, Sept. 29, 2017.
“The United States Air Force does not condone acts of vandalism,” said 1st Lt. Alannah Staver, 20th Fighter Wing chief of public affairs. “Such behavior is not representative of the Airmen of Shaw AFB as a whole. We feel we are a part of this community, are proud to serve here, and we are disappointed to hear of this incident.”
This incident remains under investigation by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.
Questions regarding the incident can be directed to Ken Bell of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-406-2036.