(Photo: KCTV 5 Screenshot)
Police now suspect a South Carolina church that was shot 16 times earlier this month was deliberately targeted, according to Legacy Outreach Church pastor, Manning Strickland.
Strickland originally believed the shots to be the fault of nearby deer hunters, though that is not a sentiment police now share.
"Police seem to think it was vandalism and not deer hunters...because ther (sic) were so many shots," said Strickland in an email to The Christian Post. "There have been several other shooting type vandalisms here in our area in the past few weeks."
Strickland entered the church's sanctuary on Sunday, Sept. 15 and found dust covering the back pews, the ceiling in disrepair and several bullet shells on the floor.
Due to the church's close proximity to the woods, Strickland initially wanted to believe the best case scenario; that the shots were fired at the church by accident and was simply a mistake by hunters.
"If it was somebody that was trying to be malicious…they probably would have shot the front of the building," he told The Christian Post earlier this month "But all of this was on the backside of the property, 200, 300 feet from where woods were."
While the church sometimes has movie nights on Saturdays, there was no programming on Sept. 14 when Strickland believes the church was shot up.
"If someone had been in there, it would not have been good," Strickland said. "We look at the bright side, we thank God, nothing was really hurt, just cosmetically."