Mostly naked, rifle-toting brothers nabbed in break-in at Orange County megachurch, police say
Two brothers have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and felony vandalism after breaking into an Orange County mega-church Wednesday night with a replica rifle and a smoke bomb, police said.
Paul Vincent Vielkind, 24, and Brandon Joseph Vielkind, 22, of Riverside surrendered to police after a brief standoff outside Harvest Orange County, a nondenominational evangelical church in Irvine. One of the men was naked, while the other was wearing only underwear, authorities said.
A security guard called police around 7:10 p.m. saying he saw two men carrying what looked like a rifle break into the church through a glass door.
Irvine police officers, including a SWAT team, responded to the scene and were able to watch the brothers inside the church thanks to surveillance cameras inside, police said.
Around 9:20 p.m., the brothers lobbed a smoke bomb outside the church and left the building, one without clothing and one partially clothed.
They were detained without incident. Police did not find any weapons at the scene other than a replica rifle.
Greg Laurie, the church’s pastor, said in a blog post Wednesday night that “there was no known motive for the break-in but there were some minor damages to the building.”
“We are grateful to the Irvine police for their quick response. Church operations and services will continue on Thursday without interruption,” he said. “As it turns out, the suspects did not have real guns. Harvest continues to work with local authorities to assess the motive and intention of these criminals.”
Laurie is a popular pastor who made headlines earlier this month for condemning white nationalists during his church’s massive Christian retreat at Angel Stadium.
The comments came following a white supremacy protest in Charlottesville, Va., that left with one person dead.
10:45 a.m.: This article has been updated with authorities reporting that Paul Vincent Vielkind is 24 years old, not 34 as they had previously stated.
This article was originally published at 10:10 a.m.
The perils of parenting through a pandemic
What’s going on with school? What do kids need? Get 8 to 3, a newsletter dedicated to the questions that keep California families up at night.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.