Police: Man breaks into church, throws hammer at bishop

Police: Man breaks into church, throws hammer at bishop

GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - A K-9 with the Greenville Police Department tracked down a man accused of breaking into a church and throwing a hammer at the pastor.

Police said 53-year-old Mark Wayne Cannon broke into Sylvia Chapel Church at 400 N. Watauga Ave. in Greenville. It happened just after 8 p.m. Thursday.

But the suspect was caught in the act when Bishop A.H. Hartsfield walked in, said investigators. Cannon then threw a hammer and a brick at the pastor before running away, according to investigators. The pastor was not hurt.

Church members believe the suspect broke in through a window and unlocked the back door. Nothing was missing inside the church, but church members are glad the pastor was not hurt.

Joseph Williams is one of the church's ministers. He talked to the bishop shortly after the break in.

"My bishop called me at about quarter after 8:00," said Williams. "He said he was out here planting some flowers. He had to go to the faith house to get some tools. [When he] came back he heard somebody going through the church. He came in and heard somebody inside the church. And he was rambling and he came at him with a hammer and a brick."

Friday, Williams and another church member were putting a board over the broken window.

"It's just a test of our faith," Williams said. "Like I said, we live in perilous times. People just don't care anymore."

Officer Paul Armstrong and K-9 Gauge were already patrolling the area when they were informed of the church break-in. K-9 Gauge was able to pick up Cannon's scent and led police to a home on Manhatten Avenue a few blocks away, investigators said.

Cannon was then arrested and charged with breaking and entering a place of worship and assault with a deadly weapon, said police. It was unclear what, if anything, was stolen.

Cannon is the 40th person K-9 Gauge has tracked in his career with the Greenville Police Department.

Bishop Hartsfield left Friday morning for a mission trip to Haiti.

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