Cape Coral church vandalism: Two 12-year-olds, 17-year-old arrested

Published: October 22, 2020 9:31 AM EDT
Updated: October 22, 2020 6:09 PM EDT
Cape Coral police are looking for suspects who got into vehicles and vandalized a church over the weekend. (Provided by CCPD)

A third arrest has been made in connection with the vandalism of a Cape Coral church.

An anonymous tip led detectives to two 12-year-old girls, one from Cape Coral and another from North Fort Myers. A 17-year-old girl was arrested Thursday. Cape Coral police said the older girl is dating one of the younger girls’ brothers and the trio snuck out during a sleepover.

The damage to Gulf Coast Baptist Church is estimated to be over $20,000.

All three suspects face charges of burglary and criminal mischief.

“This was definitely over and above. They’ve been charged with a first-degree felony so it’s very, very serious,” said Cpl. Phil Mullen. “I would hope they don’t even know why they did that.”

Pastor Tom Sexton said he isn’t angry at the girls, but he hopes this serves as a wake-up call for them.

“They need to step up and say OK, this is on me, what can I do to make this right? Then I think that’s when everything starts putting together.”

Sexton is grateful for the outpouring of love and support, and to police for quickly making arrests. He said people are coming by to drop off donations and volunteer their time. One company even offered to repaint the entire room that was spraypainted with vulgarities.

“There’s words written on these walls that we had to blot out because you couldn’t broadcast that. There’s words that I have not seen. There’s things that is hard to imagine a person of that age could write on the wall,” the pastor said.

Now that police say they’ve arrested three suspects, Sexton is focused more on forgiveness.

“You know, I’m willing to help them. I’ll do anything. I’ve given my whole life to do it but they have to find forgiveness from God.”

“Just to know that it was children, it’s really sad and my heart hurts for them and their families,” said church member Sarah McCormick.

But it isn’t all bad news.

“When we seen your article and how devastated these people were, we just wanted to reach out and let them know that most people are not like that,” said Vic Hein, owner of Vic’s Painting and Construction.

He offered to repaint the room for free.

“We’re going to bring this place back to new,” he said.

Some prayers have been answered, and some are still up in the air.

“I mean, this could be such a small bump in the road of their life. This is definitely a turning point. Either they’re going to turn and do right or they’re going to go further off into this deep hole. And I don’t want them to go further in this direction,” Sexton said.

He said he’s been in the ministry long enough to know good people sometimes make bad mistakes – how they move past them is key.

The church is accepting donations on its website to help with the costs.