Crime & Courts

Obscene graffiti and other vandalism damages Lexington Co. church, 2 teens charged

Tristian Harmon, left and Skylar Shuey
Tristian Harmon, left and Skylar Shuey

Deputies arrested two teens boys after a church was broken into and vandalized this week with obscene words and images.

Tristian Harmon, 17, of Leesville and Skylar Shuey, 17, of Gilbert are accused of breaking into Bethlehem Baptist Church in Batesburg-Leesville Monday night, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

“The entire inside of the church had been been vandalized,” a church member told the deputy who arrived to investigate.

Curse words and male body parts were drawn with spray paint inside the church, according to the incident report. “Floor adhesives and cleaners [...] were completely emptied and poured on the floors and walls.” The church piano and organ were “painted and vandalized,” and multiple small crosses were spray-painted red. Office papers were strewn about, and “someone appeared to have defecated in the women’s sink.”

Detectives believe the teens also stole and broke a golf cart nearby.

The church posted on Facebook that its insurance company advised leaders to keep people out of the church until it is professionally cleaned.

“Based on our investigation, these two did some heavy damage to the inside of the church Monday,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Fortunately, investigators returned several items back to the church and recovered the golf cart.”

The church also recovered an ice chest and a trumpet, according to a Facebook post.

Harmon and Shuey were each charged with second-degree burglary, malicious injury to a place of worship, safecracking, two car break-ins, grand larceny and conspiracy.

They are being held in the Lexington County Detention Center.