Police investigate bullet holes at Bethel AME Church

Four bullet holes were found in the front window of James Island’s Bethel AME Church on Wednesday morning, according to police.

Charleston police officers responded about 11:30 a.m. to the sanctuary at 1827 Central Park Road. A member of the church reported finding four holes in the front window that faces the road and broken glass in the sanctuary.

It appears the damage was from gunshots, according to a Wednesday media release. The church was unoccupied when the shots were fired and no other vandalism was found.

Charleston detectives and crime scene investigators canvassed the neighborhood to gather information and officers will be patrolling the area during services at the church. The department is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies in the investigation, the release states.

No other information was released. Police spokesman Charles Francis said it was an ongoing information and that more information would be released as soon as possible.

A Bethel AME Church member said Wednesday night that its congregation was in Bible study and there was no one available for comment. Bishop Richard Norris and Rev. Norvel Goff also could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Rev. Joe Darby, presiding elder of the AME Church’s Beaufort District and former pastor at Morris Brown AME, said none of the AME churches have received any particular threats that he knew of, but that all congregations have been more alert since the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church on June 17.

“Most of our churches are trying to be more vigilant these days,” he said, adding that they also realize “sometimes stupid people do stupid things.”

Anyone with information is asked to call dispatch at 743-7200 and ask for the on-call Charleston Police detective or Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.