Alleged church vandal speaks

Damage inside the Lighthouse Baptist Church (Shawn Replogle photo)

June 25, 2010 7:01:55 AM PDT
A Chatham County teenager is out on bond after he turned himself in to police for what they call one of the worse cases of vandalism they have ever seen.Lighthouse Baptist Church Pastor Mark Hall says vandals trashed the church's pulpit area, destroyed the piano, busted holes in the chairs on the podium and broke all the light fixtures.

Joseph Polinger is one of the men accused of ransacking the Chapel Hill church on June 5.

The 19-year-old turned himself in on Wednesday afternoon and is facing a number of felonies.

Even though Polinger spoke candidly with ABC11 Eyewitness News Thursday, he says he can't give a reason for his actions.

"It hasn't stopped eating at me," Polinger said. "I don't really know if I could really give you a why. I was angry, I wanted to break some stuff and that was just there."

He says he hasn't stop thinking about what happened the night he and his best friend ransacked the church.

"There was never a moment when I was okay with what happened," Polinger said.

Polinger says he wasn't all there that night. He says he didn't remember what had happened until he saw it on the news the next day.

"I was intoxicated, wouldn't have happened otherwise," he said.

Meanwhile several weeks after the incident, the sanctuary is slowly getting back to normal and cleaning up. Pastor Hall says even though it's been hard work, he's not holding any grudges.

"Before I was saved, before I accepted Christ, I could have done the same thing," Hall said. "I don't have any right to hold anything against him."

And Polinger says he is sorry.

"If I wasn't, I wouldn't of ... I wouldn't be trying to make things right," he said.

Police say Polinger returned the cross and sound system --the two items that were stolen by the vandals.

Pastor Hall says they had already started working on a new cross, so now they'll have two.

"We're blessed with more than we had," Hall said.

Pastor Hall is also extending an open invitation to Polinger.

"If he's out on bond, he can come to church then," Hall said. "We'd love to have him."

Polinger is currently released on a $25,000 bond and says he hopes to eventually meet with Pastor Hall.

In the meantime, authorities are still tracking down the other suspected vandal, but they have yet to reveal his name.

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