Arrest made after man destroys church property

Published 12:28 am Thursday, August 17, 2017


NATCHEZ — Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a man Wednesday who allegedly destroyed several thousands of dollars worth of church property.

Deputies responded to a call at approximately 9 a.m. that an unknown subject was allegedly breaking into the First Church of Natchez, located at 606 U.S. 61 North, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said in a press release.

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Upon arrival, deputies noticed several broken windows and that the church doors had been kicked in, Patten said. Once the deputies entered the church, they reportedly encountered Kenneth Paul Nelson, 39, address not provided, who was “wielding a large board.”

Patten said one deputy sustained minor injuries while attempting to subdue Nelson.

The church’s secretary, Ciara Johnson, was present at the time Nelson allegedly broke into the church. She was not harmed, but appeared visibly shaken after the incident.

“I’m still shaking,” Johnson said. “He kept saying God wanted him to do it, to come destroy our church.”

Johnson said she immediately ran out of the church and called her father, the Rev. James Johnson, who has been preaching at the church for 15 years.

“I’m thankful my daughter is OK. That’s the most important thing,” Johnson said. “But just anger — this is thousands and thousands of dollars, just for no good reason.”

Both Johnson and his daughter said they had never seen Nelson before.

“I told him I love him, but he couldn’t come back to the premises,” Johnson said.

Paramedics were called to tend to multiple lacerations Nelson suffered from shards of the windows he had allegedly broken, Patten said.

Patten also said that Nelson appeared to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, possibly suffering from mental illness, or both.

Nelson was arrested and charged with felony destruction of a church, failure to comply with law enforcement officers and simple assault on law enforcement. Nelson was being held late Wednesday in the Adams County Jail without bond.

Patten said this occurrence could be part of a nationwide trend.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the frequency of such incidents is seemingly on the rise in communities all over this nation,” Patten said.

Patten also applauded his deputies for their quick response to the situation.

Nicole Hester contributed to this article.