New Hope leaders react to repeated bus vandalism

JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — New Hope Baptist Church leaders are in disbelief that vandals tore apart an electrical panel on one of their buses, disabling it, and damaged another bus.

“They just cut all the wires," New Hope Assistant Pastor Ryan Flauger said. "They took this board and they left just the remnants of everything that was cut out."

Flauger said the incident happened sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. Saturday morning.

The church’s surveillance video captured a car pulling into the parking lot before the vandals damaged the bus.

Flauger has no idea who would do this or why.

"We saw some cigarette butts around indicating they are a little older," he said.

The vandals also broke the door on another bus, trying to break into that vehicle.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the church’s first run in with vandals.

About a year ago, someone stole the buses' batteries so now they lock those up. The church has seven buses.

“We call ourselves the bus church,” New Hope Baptist Church Darren Tharp said.

Each Sunday, those buses are used to bring about 150 people to church who otherwise wouldn't have a ride to church. 

“If we can't run a bus, they can't come,” Flauger said.

While church leaders don’t want vengeance, they hope someone takes responsibility for the crime.

“We're not angry with anybody," Flauger said. "We are angry with the situation, maybe a little upset about it."

Tharp added, “It's tragic that someone would do this to a church that all we do is reach out."

The church's green bus carries 30 to 40 people to church every week and will use the other buses to pick those people up for now.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

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