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Bullets strike Leicester church

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Posted on February 4, 2016 |
By Lee Kahrs



Bullets Nazarene church Leicester_0837 CMYK.jpg
A BULLET SHOT into the Church of the Nazarene in Leicester late last month ricocheted off this pew in the sanctuary of the Route 7 church. Brandon Reporter photo/Lee J. Kahrs

LEICESTER — Parishioners arrived at the Church of the Nazarene on Route 7 in Leicester for Sunday morning services on Jan. 24 to find four bullets holes in the church sanctuary.

The bullets appear to have been fired into the church from outside on the south side of the building.

One of the bullets was lying on the floor of the church and has been turned over to Vermont State Police, who have considered a possible link to an incident at Brandon Scrap Metal four days earlier.

The sun was setting this past Monday evening as church Layman Tom Millington pointed to the most obvious bullet hole, which came through a window, creating a large crack through the glass above the shattered circle at the point of entry. The dimming light shone through all the small cracks around where the bullet exited the glass into the church.

Millington said he is in the Church of the Nazarene every day, and the bullet holes were not there on Saturday, Jan. 23. He said the church building was erected in 1986 and currently has 30 congregation members.

While it is unclear what type of gun was used to fire the shots, it appears to have been a higher caliber weapon. The bullet that came through the window traveled roughly 40 feet across the sanctuary to hit the opposite wall of the church. Another appears to have ricocheted off one of the wooden pews. 

Another bullet is lodged in the wall of the nursery on the lower level, said Pastor Phil Smith in a phone interview Monday.

“We called the state police and they said they couldn’t have anyone come down until later in the week,” Smith said. “We said we had a bullet, they said they’d send someone as soon as possible.”

Millington said police were at the church investigating the incident on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Sgt. Paul Badger of the Vermont State Police’s New Haven barracks is the investigating officer in the case. A phone message and an email to Badger requesting more information and comment in the case were not answered by press time.

But police have not ruled out a connection to the Jan. 21 arrest of Kadia Barenbaum, 56, of Middlebury, who was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment after allegedly threatening the owner and employees of Brandon Scrap Metal with a .45 caliber handgun on Jan. 20.

Brandon Scrap Metal is located a mile north of the Church of the Nazarene on Route 7 in Leicester.

Police from multiple agencies searched for Barenbaum for about 12 hours before Rutland police arrested him at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 21. Barenbaum was in possession of a .45 caliber Ruger handgun at the time of his arrest, police said. Later that day he pleaded innocent to the charges in Addison County Superior Court, criminal division, and he was remanded to Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland for lack of $2,500 bond set by Judge Samuel Hoar. According to MVCF officials, Barenbaum was only in jail a few hours before he made bail and was released with conditions.

Those conditions included staying at least 100 yards away from Brandon Scrap Metal, not to contact or approach the owner or the employees, and not to buy or possess firearms.

In an email requesting comment, Trooper Adria Pickin, who is in charge of the Brandon Scrap Metal case, referred questions about the church incident to Sgt. Badger, but wrote, “I can confirm that we have looked into the possibility that both of the cases were connected.”

As for the church, Millington said the congregation went with its worship service the day the bullet holes were found and this past Sunday as well. He also said whoever fired a gun into the church is welcome to come to the church and repent.

“We exist because of Jesus, who can save any sinner from such acts,” Millington said. ‘We know the difference between a handshake and a fist.”

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