Crime & Courts

Church employee assaulted after walking in on burglary, Lexington County deputies say

James Drayton
James Drayton Lexington County Sheriff's Department

A West Columbia man is charged with breaking into a Lexington County church and assaulting an employee who walked in on the burglary, according to deputies.

James Douglas Drayton, 20, is charged with first-degree assault and battery and second-degree burglary, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.

“Based on information deputies gathered at the scene, Drayton threw a rock through a glass door at Red Bank United Methodist Church early Monday morning and went inside to find items to steal,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “That’s when he was interrupted by a church employee coming in for work.”

Drayton grabbed an item from the employee’s hands and hit her in the face, Koon said. She had some facial injuries and was treated at the scene by EMS.

Deputies arrested Drayton after responding to a civil issue later Monday and noting he matched the description of the burglary suspect. He’s being held in the Lexington County Detention Center, where a judge denied bond Tuesday.

First-degree assault and battery carries up to 10 years in prison, under South Carolina law. Second-degree burglary carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.