Church gives suspected burglar a 2nd chance

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lonnie Newman was wrapping up a day of cleaning at Jones Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on Saturday evening when he encountered an unwelcome visitor. But this is a story of forgiveness.

The near east side church is located on the 2500 block of East 34th Street.

Newman had just turned on the alarm when he heard a loud boom. At first he thought maybe a tree branch had fallen on the church.

He then heard the boom again. Newman quickly realized an intruder busted through an outer door. The lights were still off inside the church as the suspect moved around in the church. Newman than tackled the man. A small struggle followed with the suspect being subdue and tied up.

With the suspect on the ground, Newman turned on the lights. He looked at the suspect and quickly realized the apparent intruder was an older man. Police later identified the suspect as a 65-year-old man. While waiting for investigators to arrive the suspected burglar told Newman he broke in because he needed a coat.

“I should have just let him go that’s all I kept saying; I should have let him go,” Newman said.

Jones Tabernacle has a history of giving second chances and helping the community. The church has a food pantry and it also provides coats for some in the city.

After police made the arrest, emergency service crews took the suspect to the hospital as a precaution. The church’s pastor decided not to press charges against the man.

Newman agreed that pressing charges might not be the best answer; however, he wished the suspect would have just asked for a coat instead of breaking in. 

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