CRESTVIEW, Fla., Dec. 28, 2018–A Crestview church was spared possible destruction yesterday when a homeless man left the gas stove on in the kitchen after breaking in.
Crestview Police and Fire Departments responded around 11:30 a.m. to a report of gas in the building and discovered a homeless man asleep in a Sunday school room.
Christopher Kendall Stanton, 32, was charged with burglary and willfully damaging a church or place of worship, both felony offenses.
The First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s custodian smelled gas when entering the education building adjacent to the church.
He then noticed a pair of exterior doors facing South Ferdon Boulevard had been kicked in.
He and the church secretary called the first responders and opened the doors to start clearing the gas.
Crestview police officers discovered Stanton, who was known to frequent the church’s soup kitchen, asleep in an upper room with his dog.
Police believe he broke into the church Wednesday night.
“The gentleman had apparently tried to light a cigarette using the stove in the kitchen, then left the gas on,” said Rev. Mark Broadhead. “By the time the custodian entered the building, the gas had filled all three floors.”
According to Fire Chief Tony Holland, if the gas had ignited, there would have been extensive damage.
“It definitely would’ve leveled that building and the church and done significant damage to the law firm next door,” he said.
Stanton was remanded to the Okaloosa County Jail. His dog was turned over to P.A.W.S.
(Crestview Police Department release)