Update: Man arrested after Conway church break-in and fire


CONWAY, Ark. – Tips from the public have helped police make an arrest in a church burglary and vandalism case.

The Conway Police Department reported the update on Friday afternoon.

Brenton Winn, 23, was taken into custody Friday morning at an apartment complex in the investigation of the break-in at Central Baptist Church.

He faces several charges, including arson.

Original story:
CONWAY, Ark.  — A vandal turned a Conway sanctuary into a crime scene Thursday, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. 

Police hope surveillance video from the Central Baptist Church will help track down the man who damaged almost every room in the building before setting it on fire. 

“Attacking a house of God, it just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mark Bailey, who volunteered to help clean up his church.  “I’m just trying to take it all in.”

The vandal turned the church into his stage, acknowledging the cameras while he damaged the building.  Investigators says the man started by breaking an outside gas line and lighting part of the building on fire before breaking a glass door then damaging the interior.

“You feel like someone has taken all the good and done everything they could do to make it evil,” said Pastor Don Chandler. 

The vandalism included smashed glass, crosses ripped off walls, a fire extinguished sprayed down hallways, appliances knocked over, sound system equipment thrown off a balcony, and racial slurs gratified on walls. 

“I’d love to know why he’s so angry, I’d love to know why he chose us,” Pastor Chandler added.

As Pastor Chandler looks over the security video, he points to signs, like a bus the man unsuccessfully tried to light on fire, as a reminder the man could have caused even more damage. 

“A match or cigarette lighter he tried to throw that into a gas line, he jumped back but it didn’t blaze up,” Pastor Chandler explained. “If I could just say anything, I’d tell him he’s already forgiven, that our people don’t hold grudges, and that we’ve been praying for him all day long.”

With dozens of volunteers helping pick up, the church will be open for service Sunday. 

Chuch-goers like Bailey call acts like this one a true test of faith. 

“We’ll reorganize, move on and be thankful this is all the damage that was don. It could have been a lot worse,” he said. 

Police are investigating whether the vandalism was targeted. 

Investigators say the man appeared to be under the influence. 

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