KANSAS CITY, MO -- Wednesday night, Kansas City police conducted surveillance from inside a church that has repeatedly been the target of vandalism for months.
Church members are hopeful the destruction and their worries have finally come to an end thanks to an arrest. “As fate would have it, he did strike again and he was apprehended,” Ruling Elder at South-Broadland Presbyterian Darron Story said.
Kansas City police have investigated numerous reports of smashed windows and an attempted arson at the South-Broadland Presbyterian church. Vandalism at the church began back in November of last year when someone damaged their Black Lives Matter sign. Then someone began smashing nearly every window that could be reached including 16 windows in one night.
“It's been frightening to be honest with you to know that someone would go to such lengths to vandalize our building,” Story said. The suspect kept breaking windows in their nursery.
“Where our kids in our preschool program inhabit so that's disturbing as well,” Story said. “I couldn't believe how committed this person was in doing this. So, it leads me to believe there's something on his heart and his mind that is really troubling.
Wednesday night a police officer watched surveillance cameras from inside the church’s security office as another officer waited outside out of sight. They saw the suspect walk up to the church carrying a baseball bat. He was seen swinging it. Then officers heard two loud bangs.
As officers tried to arrest Chidera Okolo, police say he used the bat to strike an officer two times. A Taser was used and Okolo was eventually taken into custody. Investigators say he was wearing clothing that was consistent with the clothing worn by the suspect during previous vandalism at the church. He’s charged with assault and armed criminal action.
Story says as people of faith, members of their congregation will pray for the suspect and forgive him. “We all are broken in some way, some shape, form, or fashion. That brokenness comes out in various ways and for him it came out in anger and destruction,” Story said. “I would just hope that God can help him deal with that and find someone to talk to.”
Community members helped raise funds for the church to purchase new surveillance cameras after the continued damage. J and J Screen Company donated glass to help replace broken windows. Church members say the generosity renewed their faith in people.