Surveillance video captured teenagers targeting a place of worship not once, but twice in one week.
Members of the New Hope Baptist Church in Mesquite say they have a message for the trio that destroyed church property and left racist graffiti behind.
The message was delivered during the first Sunday service since the attack.
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“Somebody wants to know today how do we respond,” said Pastor Reginald Jefferson to his congregation during service. “I’ll tell you how we respond: business as usual. Tell your neighbor, neighbor: business as usual.”
Jefferson’s congregation says it is not defeated despite an attack on their place of worship.
Police say three males, believed to be teenagers, walked up to the church at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, and destroyed a church light and surveillance camera.
The following night, police say the trio returned and spray painted racial slurs and sexual images on two church sheds.
The suspects appear to be three white or Hispanic teen males, according to a Mesquite Police Department press release.
“I’m telling you, all things work together for good. Those buildings needed painting,” the pastor said with a chuckle.
Residents, including several who are not members of New Hope, rallied around the church.
“When I saw it I was in my recliner,” said Preston Patterson. “I just sat straight up, called another neighbor and said we need paint and a paintbrush and came over here and took care of it.”
City councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Casper also attended the church service and addressed the crowd.
“We in Mesquite are our brother’s keepers and we have your back,” he told the crowd.
Evelyn Brown attended service with her daughter and grandsons.
“You see the young kids vandalizing a church home, a God building and that lets you know something is missing in their lives because something had to be going on for them to do this,” she said of the culprits.
Revered Jefferson and his congregation say they forgive the vandals.
“If you need us, whatever you did even if you did that, we still love you,” said Brown.
Mesquite police say they are still investigating.