Accused church vandal arrested
By Nathan Hardin
Authorities have charged an Albemarle man with vandalizing churches and businesses in Rowan, Anson and Stanly counties in November, including anti-religious graffiti sprayed on the oldest stone Lutheran church in North Carolina.
Bryan Matthew Balser, 21, of 24783 Austin Road, Albemarle, was arrested Friday at a motel room in China Grove.
Investigators say Balser was the leader of a group that spray-painted graffiti on the front and sides of Organ Lutheran Church on Organ Church Road and vandalized the Warrior Golf Course on N.C. 152.
Balser has been charged with three counts of felony breaking and entering, two counts of felony injuring buildings or fences, misdemeanor injuring buildings or fences, injury to personal property, carrying a concealed gun and two counts of misdemeanor failure to appear in court.
Investigators from Rowan, Anson and Stanly counties, China Grove and the State Bureau of Investigation are continuing to work on the case.
Deputies said Balser vandalized Organ Lutheran Church and the Warrior Golf Course two nights in a row in November 2011.
Spray-paint colors and graffiti symbols were the same and matched those in neighboring counties.
Balser painted the garage doors of the golf course, along with walls and the back door, officers said. He also tore down a flag pole and sprayed the American and North Carolina State flags, ripped up all the pathway lights and spray-painted swastikas on lamp posts throughout the course, the report said.
At Organ Lutheran Church, Balser wrote words such as “kill,” “evil” and “prepare for the worst,” authorities said. There were also anti-Christian phrases, satanic symbols and upside-down crosses.
Investigators also found “SWA” painted on the church. The same letters are tattooed on Balser’s leg.
DNA swabs were taken from paint can lids found at the scenes and sent to the SBI for analysis.
According to arrest warrants, Balser and friend Daniel Tyler Huneycutt were questioned by police after reports of drug activity in their room at Miller Motel in China Grove.
China Grove Police Chief Eddie Kluttz said officers found hydrocodone and marijuana in Huneycutt’s possession when they arrived.
They also found a concealed .22-caliber revolver and a rifle that had been reported stolen.
The 19-year-old Huneycutt was charged with felony possession of a stolen fire-arm, misdemeanor possession of hydrocodone, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and misdemeanor carrying a concealed weapon.
He was in jail Friday under a $10,000 bond.
Balser was also had a .357 revolver and was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, authorities said.
He was given a $58,000 bond and was in jail Friday.
According to arrest warrants from Anson County, Balser was also charged with felony burning a church or religious building, felony breaking and entering into a place of worship and felony larceny.
Balser was one of several who broke into Cedar Hill AME Zion Church in Wadesboro in November 2011, the report said.
The warrant said Balser stole a microphone during the break-in and burned a cross inside the church.
Additional charges are pending from China Grove Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Officers ask that anyone with information about the incidents contact the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700 or Rowan County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-639-5245.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.
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