Investigation underway after three break-ins at Knoxville churches on the same night

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville police are investigating after three local churches were vandalized and/or burglarized around the same time early Tuesday.

Knoxville Police Department officers responded to two different churches that were either vandalized or burglarized early Tuesday morning, while a third church was hit within the same time frame and responded to by deputies with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Shoreline Church in Knoxville. Source: Google Earth

KPD officers were dispatched to Shoreline Church at 9635 Westland Drive around 2:26 a.m. Tuesday where a glass door had been shattered by a large rock. Nothing appeared to be stolen following a preliminary investigation.

Transformation Church in Knoxville. Source: Google Earth

At approximately 2:45 a.m., KPD was dispatched to Transformation Church at 340 Park Village Road, where the front door was shattered.

Executive Pastor Drew Carson showed us the rock they believe was used to smash the window, “It was so far in the lobby, we were making jokes that maybe the Vols could use this guy as a quarterback, too.”

Church leaders at Transformation Church believe the burglar picked the rock up from a nearby ditch and entered from the front, and went out the side of the building.

Pastor Carson says they initially didn’t notice anything missing but after an early morning service, they noticed a keyboard was stolen.

“Then of course we did another sweep of the building. Didn’t guess someone needed a keyboard more than we did,” he said.

The front doors at Transformation Church, Shoreline Church and West Towne Christian Church all look the same with plywood covering where the glass had been smashed out.

“That bothers me that two other churches were also attacked because it’s like an attack coming against the Kingdom of God and that kind of bothers me a little bit, and an attack on a certain group of people,” said Pastor Carson.

While investigators work to answer who did the break-ins and why, Pastor Carson says they’ve already forgiven them.

“It hurts. It’s a little bit troubling but people are struggling, things happen. Somebody walks out riding around in a car and decided to go smash some churches, but it’s okay. We’ll survive. We’ll keep going and God will provide,” said Pastor Carson.

Around that same time, Knox County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a similar incident where items were stolen from the West Towne Christian Church at 9300 Middlebrook Pike.

West Town Christian Church in Knoxville. Source: Google Earth

KPD West District officers canvassed all churches throughout the area for the remainder of the night but found no suspicious vehicles or persons. No additional damage was located.

No suspect information has been released. If you know anything about these break ins, you can call KPD’s anonymous tip hotline at (865) 215-7212.

An investigation is underway. This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available.

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