Men accused of ransacking Memphis church

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Two Memphis men have been arrested, and are accused of breaking into and ransacking the Grey Road Pentecostal Church, investigators said Thursday.

Senior Pastor Don Johnson, who has built the church over the past 52 years, said he's never had a break-in as bad as this one.

"I couldn't figure out why in the world anyone would do a thing like this," he said.

Damage to the church was extensive. Sunday school classrooms were wrecked, covered in graffiti and fire extinguisher residue.

"I think that's awful," Johnson said.

The suspects were found close by. Linda Shempert, who lives less than a quarter of a mile from the church, said Thursday her son, Jon, and his friend, Alexander Wyatt, have been charged with breaking into and vandalizing the church.

"I just don't know why he'd do anything like this," Shempert said.

Complicating clean-up efforts, Johnson said, was water from a toilet that was destroyed.  The water flooded much of the building, destroying carpet and causing other damage.

"We were hurt because this is our church. We worked hard," Johnson said.

As Johnson and church members pick up the pieces, Shempert said her broken heart may not mend so easily.

"I understand, he's gotta pay for his crime," she said.

Jon Shempert and Alexander Wyatt are also charged with breaking into the Graham Heights Baptist Church, and leaving behind a similar mess.

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