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Middle Tennessee African-American church vandalized with racist remarks in bibles, door

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office says four juveniles have been charged after allegedly writing racially-insensitive comments in Bibles and doors of an African-American church.

Police say the incident took place at the Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church. There, deputies found "KKK" written in Bibles along with the remark "we are white and we are watching you, white power" written on the door of the church.

Police also found other damage, including overflowing toilets and water damage. A laptop and video camera were also stolen.

Investigators were able to track down the suspects, identified as two 16-year-old boys, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old. Two of the boys are facing charges of burglary, theft, and vandalism. Two of the other teens were charged with burglary and vandalism.

Police say other charges could follow. Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh called the crimes hate crimes. “They (police) quickly addressed these insensitive and disturbing hate crimes at a place of worship,” Fitzhugh said.

The pastor of the church, Richard W. Sidert, says a woman caught them running from the church and took a picture, which deputies used to identify and arrest the boys.

“I was really kind of frightened, what could have happened if someone encountered them in here, cause you never know these days and times,” Pastor Sidert said.

Elder James A. Mitchell has attended the church for 85 years. He showed FOX 17 a white gown left by the boys.

“It cut my heart,” Mitchell said, “To me that’s the work of the devil.”

While the church members says this act cuts deep, they say the community has poured out support.

Pastor Sidert says he hopes the boys learn from their mistakes and get the help they need.

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“We can forgive them of this act as long as they remember they have hurt somebody very deeply and the scars are here,” Sidert said. “God is still in control, even though they did this act, you have to show empathy toward them because they are misguided.”

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