WV pastor resigning after lending bus to police - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV pastor resigning after lending bus to police

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Bear attacks dog in Raleigh County

    Bear attacks dog in Raleigh County

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:35 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:35:58 GMT
    In Raleigh County a woman comes home to find her dog laying lifeless in the backyard after being attacked by a bear.
    In Raleigh County a woman comes home to find her dog laying lifeless in the backyard after being attacked by a bear.
  • We're working to see what rules are in place at shooting ranges after a 9 year old girl shoots her instructor

    We're working to see what rules are in place at shooting ranges after a 9 year old girl shoots her instructor

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:23 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:23:35 GMT
    National debate has been sparked over gun safety after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor in Arizona on Monday.The instructor was teaching the girl how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun.The girl pulled the trigger, and the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun.The instructor was accidentally shot in the head, he died later at the hospital. 
    National debate has been sparked over gun safety after a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor in Arizona on Monday.The instructor was teaching the girl how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun.The girl pulled the trigger, and the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun.The instructor was accidentally shot in the head, he died later at the hospital. 
  • Ronceverte man charged with breaking into Lewisburg business

    Ronceverte man charged with breaking into Lewisburg business

    Thursday, August 28 2014 3:22 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:22:19 GMT
    David TrentDavid Trent
    A suspicious person investigation lead to the arrest of a man from Ronceverte on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. David Wayne Trent, 30, of Ronceverte, WV is charged with Breaking and Entering, Obstructing an Officer, Battery on an Officer and Petit Larceny.
    A suspicious person investigation lead to the arrest of a man from Ronceverte on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. David Wayne Trent, 30, of Ronceverte, WV is charged with Breaking and Entering, Obstructing an Officer, Battery on an Officer and Petit Larceny.

BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

 

CHARLESTON, WV (AP) — A West Virginia pastor is losing his job in the pulpit after lending his church's bus to law enforcement officers for a meth lab bust.

The bust last week netted three arrests in rural Lincoln County, but it cost Chris Wilkinson his $150-per-month job as pastor at Morning Star Community Church near Hamlin. Police said the bus allowed them to approach the methamphetamine lab without arousing suspicion.

Wilkinson said Wednesday that some church members were unhappy with his decision to let law officers use the bus and asked him to step down a few days after the drug bust.

He said he planned to resign after nearly 10 years as pastor of the nondenominational church.

"It's kind of a shocker," said Wilkinson, who also serves as Hamlin's mayor and police chief.

It wasn't the first time he had lent the church bus to aid in combating the area's drug trade. He said he allowed state police to borrow the bus a few months ago for a drug roundup in the area.

"Nothing was really said about it," Wilkinson said in a phone interview. "So when the sheriff's department asked to use it, I just said, 'sure, go with it.'"

Lincoln County Chief Sheriff's Deputy J.J. Napier said that Wilkinson's cooperation in offering up the bus played a key role in enabling officers to take the drug suspects by surprise.

Meth lab operators typically post lookouts to alert them if police cruisers are headed their way, Napier said. The church bus was able to get past the lookouts without drawing any warning signals, he said.

Soon, nine law officers were piling out of the bus to make the arrests and shut down the meth operation in the community of Harts, about 15 miles south of Hamlin.

"Our plan was to surprise them and it worked," said Napier, who was on the bus. "They didn't have time to run, they didn't have time to start destroying evidence. The look on their faces when those officers rolled off the church bus and started taking control of the scene was priceless. It's like, 'Oh God, they've got me.'"

A second wave of law officers soon arrived in police cruisers in the multi-agency bust.

If police had arrived in cruisers only, the suspects "would have hit the hills," Napier said.

"The church bus was an essential part of this arrest, period," he said.

Meth production has been a big problem in West Virginia. Statewide, authorities seized more than 300 meth labs since January.

Wilkinson said he had no regrets and would offer up the bus again to help fight the area's drug problems.

"We've all been working hard trying to get the drugs cleaned up around this area," he said. "I just thought it was a positive thing to do."

The bus was used for Christmas caroling by church members but had been parked for months without being used, he said.

Attendance has been down at the church, and Wilkinson said he had been thinking about stepping down as pastor even before the controversy surfaced.

"I'm a firm believer that if God closes one door He'll open another one," he said. "So I'm sure He's got something else for me to do."

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.