ELLERBE — Members of a small church found a foul message Sunday morning on the side of the sanctuary.
Spray painted in black on the walls of St. Peter’s Holiness Church were the words “F—- Trump” and “M13.”
According to an incident report, a church member was walking around the corner of the building when she spotted the graffiti, but she told the deputy there were no known suspects.
The church is located on the corner of U.S. 220 Business and Easterling Street.
By late Monday afternoon, an attempt had been made to remove the defacement, but the words were still visible.
A minister for the church declined to comment.
Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge said the case is under investigation.
“We will also be in touch with our federal partners to help with this incident as there is federal law when it comes to places of religious worship,” he said.
According to U.S. Code, anyone who intentionally defaces, damages or destroys any religious real property because of the religious character of the property or because of the ethnic characteristics of any individual associated the religious property — or attempts to do so — is subject to fine, not more than a year in prison or both.
North Carolina statue holds that church defacing or damaging church property where the dame is $5,000 or less is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
“I hope we will find the responsible party,” he continued. “Anyone willing to deface a place of worship needs some time in the Richmond County Jail or federal prison or both.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Richmond County Crime Stoppers at 910-997-5454 or the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 910-997-8283.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.