Black church in Oconee County shot at on Juneteenth


By Joe Johnson

A black church was shot at on Friday, a day known as Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday that celebrates the emancipation of blacks who had been enslaved in the United States.

Despite the timing of the incident -- which also occurred amid anti-police protests across the country spurred by a Minneapolis police officer last month killing George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was in custody for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill -- Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said there was nothing to indicate that the church was targeted because of its all-black congregation.

“We take this very seriously, and there is no evidence to suggest it was racially motivated,” Berry said. “It looks like someone targeted the glass in the door, someone who was being stupid.”

Church elders said they were concerned about the two gunshots that went through the front doors of Mt. Zion Baptist church on Freeman Creek Road in the community of Farmington.

Deacon Bobby Thomas said if someone had been in the pulpit at the time, they could have been stuck by one of the bullets.

Neither he nor Deacon Jack Daniels could think of anyone who could have been responsible for the shooting.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, so I just leave it in the hands of the Lord,” Daniels said.

The gunshots caused $1,500 in damages, according to a sheriff’s incident report, to an external metal door, an internal wood door, and a sheetrock wall where one of the bullets lodged.

Soon after Berry was interviewed by Classic City News, a post appeared on the Oconee County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page that stated investigators were following up on some leads in the case and a copy of the church shooting incident report was forwarded to the FBI.

Anyone with information concerning the incident should contact the lead investigator, Sgt. Sam Smith at (706) 769-3945 or ssmith@oconee sheriff.org.

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