CRESTVIEW, Fla (WKRG) — Police say a homeless man nearly blew up a church Thursday morning. It happened at First Presbyterian Church of Crestview. Police say the church custodian went into a building next to the church and smelled gas, he noticed the doors of the church had been kicked in.
When police and firefighters got to the scene they found a church full of gas and a homeless man sleeping in the Sunday School room. They say 32-year-old Christopher Stanton had used the gas stove to light cigarette and left the gas running, seeping into the church. With the church full of gas, it could have exploded.
Police say that the church has been helping Stanton, that he’s a frequent visitor to their soup kitchen. They say he broke into the church Wednesday night with his dog and went to sleep. “The gentleman had apparently tried to light a cigarette using the stove in the kitchen, then left the gas on,” the Rev. Mark Broadhead, the church’s pastor, said. “By the time the custodian entered the building, the gas had filled all three floors.”
“It could’ve done some serious damage,” Fire Chief Tony Holland said. “It definitely would’ve leveled that building and the church, and done significant damage to the law firm next door.”
According to a press release ” Stanton, who had also helped himself to several packets of chips and left the remnants scattered around the church kitchen floor, was charged with burglary to a structure and willfully damaging a church or place of worship, which are both felonies.
His dog was turned over to P.A.W.S.”