PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A prominent Pensacola church was vandalized early Tuesday morning, a crime caught on camera that led investigators to arrest a man for that and four additional church vandalisms.
Escambia County deputies have arrested Sean Thomas Michaels, 31, for vandalizing Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola at around 1 a.m. Michaels is charged with felony criminal mischief in that vandalism. Michaels is also charged with vandalizing Marcus Pointe Baptist Church, Victory Baptist Church, St. Andrew the Apostle Orthodox Church and Legacy Church.
“Our team found it early this morning — the folks that come for the workout sessions that we have in the gym,” said Dr. Ted Traylor, pastor at Olive Baptist. “Just saw the graffiti on most of the doors and on the walls and outside.”
Deputies say Michaels is seen on church surveillance video spray painting the walls, ground and windows outside the church. Michaels allegedly painted words and phrases like “murder,” “liar” and “Satan depart from me,” according to deputies.
Traylor said he doesn’t know Michaels nor why he would vandalize the church. But he said he prayed for Michaels Tuesday morning.
“There can be several things. One — somebody has been deeply hurt by the church and they’re reacting, or they just have a deep philosophical or even theological difference,” Traylor said.
“Whatever his cause may be, you’re not going to make an impact painting buildings. We love (the vandal). There’s a price to pay. You can’t do this. You can’t go around defacing buildings. But hey, we’re in the redemption business. That’s what we’re all about.”
Michaels was also charged with two counts of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer after he refused commands during his arrest.
The ECSO says deputies had to deploy beanbag rounds and K-9 Tebow at Michaels during the arrest to make him surrender.
As of Tuesday evening, Michaels is being held in the Escambia County jail.