MAYESVILLE, S.C. — Four Air Force service members have been arrested after surveillance footage connected them to a recent act of vandalism at a historic South Carolina church.
Kayla Eilerman, 18, Clayre Savage, 18, Daveion Green, 19, and Brandon Munoz, 20, are facing charges of malicious injury to a house of worship, conspiracy and trespassing surrounding the incident, which occurred late last month. They all are stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, approximately 25 miles away.
According to reports, on Sept. 29, a member of Salem Black River Presbyterian Church in Mayesville called police after discovering that the church had been defaced with pentagrams, an upside-down cross and the word “Satan.” 20 spray-painted markings were found around the exterior of the church and two other buildings on the property. A door had also been kicked in.
Police soon released images from the church’s security footage, which led to tips from the general public.
“Several tips came in from the community, including from Shaw AFB personnel who gave us the names of possible suspects,” Ken Bell, spokesperson for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement. “We began researching the names through various databases and social media.”
The four were then arrested on Thursday and held on $15,000 bond at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center. According to the Sumter Item, all four confessed to their part in the crime.
“The United States Air Force does not condone acts of vandalism,” remarked 1st Lt. Alannah Staver, who serves as chief of public affairs for the 20th Fighter Wing. “Such behavior is not representative of the Airmen of Shaw AFB as a whole. We feel we are a part of this community, are proud to serve here, and we are disappointed to hear of this incident.”
The airmen have now been prohibited from leaving the base between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., and face possible further disciplinary action.
“I would hope that these young people learn from their mistake and are able to move forward and have a good career and good life ahead of them,” Bell told reporters. “This just shows the seriousness of what can happen when someone does something like this. They see it as a night of foolishness and a night of fun and games. They didn’t realize how serious it is, because this put fear into some of the church members and some of them were afraid to go to church.”
“This is a little small church out in the country that, quite frankly, is an older congregation and they were quite taken aback by some of this,” he said.
Salem Black River Presbyterian Church was founded in 1759 by Scott-Irish settlers. It was listed in the National Register in 1978.