String of church crimes under investigation

A man is accused of flashing a mother and her young child in front of a child earlier this week.

GASTONIA, N.C. -- A man is out of jail after Gastonia Police arrested him for exposing himself to a mother and her three-year-old child outside a church Monday morning.

David Hartman was charged with indecent exposure, which police said occurred at Bethlehem Baptist Recreation Center's parking lot.

It was the first of two similar incidents at churches in the Charlotte area.

On Tuesday, a woman reported to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police that a man exposed himself to her outside a house of worship on Providence Road; the report didn't specify which place.

A few hours later on that same day, parishioners at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church called 911 after someone broke into their cars while they were at Bible study.

The crimes come amid heightened worries about the safety of churches, temples, and mosques; particularly after a mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which is just outside San Antonio.

In light of the shooting, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger will be holding an information session for local religious leaders interested in protecting their congregations.

"It causes fear within the communities," Sheriff Cloninger said about shootings at places of worship. "One thing we don't want is for people to be too fearful to go to a place of worship."

The session will be at the Sheriff's Office on November 15 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. Those interested are asked to RSVP by calling 704-869-6862 or emailing gwilliams@gcps.org.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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