Teen threatens to ‘shoot up’ Statesville church after attempted robbery

STATESVILLE, N.C. — A 16-year-old boy threatened to shoot up a Statesville church after an attempted robbery didn’t go his way, according to deputies in Iredell County.

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called to Bethlehem Road last Friday after a worker said someone had just tried to rob him.

The victim told deputies that someone pointed a gun at him and told him to empty his pockets. The victim refused to give the gunman anything and told him to leave, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office on Tuesday.

Before the gunman left, he told the victim, “I will come back and shoot up the whole church,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The pastor of the Bethlehem Methodist Church told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty he’s glad no one was hurt. Pastor Matt Nichols said the victim was a custodian who was cleaning outside.

“Just tried to stay as calm as he could, basically said he wasn’t going to give him nothing, said he didn’t have anything to give him,” Nichols said.

Deputies talked to witnesses and found that the suspect was a juvenile who lived in the area. The teen was found at his home and tried to run away from deputies, including spitting in the face of one of them.

Eventually, the teen was taken into custody and taken to the Alexander County Juvenile Detention Center. He’s facing charges of felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, felony communicating threats of mass violence, and malicious conduct by a prisoner.

Nichols says the church has two people working security, and the doors remain locked to the outside.

Patty Charles has been going to church here for more than four decades and noted the change.

“When we first came here, we didn’t even lock the doors, so this is not a normal happening, but we’ve learned we need to be more cautious, be more secure,” Charles said.

The church tells Channel 9 they’ve been praying for the teenager with the hope that he gets the help he needs.

“There’s a heart for us to pray for him, just as much as our janitor -- that’s a traumatic experience being threatened,” Nichols said. “He is just as concerned for him and wants prayer for the young man.”

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