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‘It Looked Like a Tornado Came Through Here,’ – Church Vandalized in Williamsport

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Pastor David Bixler of Emmanuel Baptist Church came into his place of worship last weekend to find a horrendous scene. “It looke...

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Pastor David Bixler of Emmanuel Baptist Church came into his place of worship last weekend to find a horrendous scene.

"It looked like a tornado came through here," the pastor said.

The man police believe is responsible was already behind bars.

State troopers found Steven Smith-Williams, 32, of New Jersey, walking naked along Four Mile Drive, not far from the church earlier this month.

According to court papers, Smith-Williams was confrontational and kicked a state trooper in the chest. He's been locked up since the incident but now police have charged him with causing the damages inside the church.

Investigators believe it happened right before his arrest. Police linked Smith-Williams with the crimes here at the church when they found his clothing near the church altar with an ID card in one of his pockets.

"They contacted us and asked if our air conditioner had been damaged and we said yes it was," Bixler explained. "It turned out when they arrested him he had a piece of the air conditioner in his hand."

Upon entering the church Pastor Bixler found their P.A. system smashed, causing holes in a wall. The system was valued at $11,000.

Windows had been shattered and pews overturned.

Volunteers and parishioners were forced to remove the entire carpet from the church floor. Solid oak pews were previously bolted to the floor. The carpet was torn when Smith-Williams allegedly knocked them over.

Knife marks etched into walls around the church altar spell out messages like "Praise Russia," "Muslims," and "War is Coming."

Smith-Williams is charged with ethnic intimidation as well as criminal trespassing, institutional vandalism, theft, and related offenses.

Pastor Bixler said they are still awaiting estimates for new drywall, paint, pews, windows. They'll also need to replace hymn books, the air conditioner, and the organ.

Bixler estimates repairs will take about two months; church services are being held in the church's gymnasium building.

"We have received mail every single day, cards, well wishes," Bixler said. "Over $10,000 has come in."

When we asked Pastor Bixler if Smith-Williams, whose girlfriend lives just a few doors down from the church, would have any motive for his actions, he said a church employee asked him not to trespass on church grounds while their private grade school is in session.

"He was apologetic then, he said, 'I'm sorry, I do need God. I'll be in church on Sunday,' which he wasn't in church Sunday, but we thought all was well and then it was about one week later when all of this happened, " Bixler said.

Police believe Smith-Williams was using drugs morning of the incident. He remains locked up on $175,000 bail.