East Columbus churches forming emergency neighborhood watches

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Valerie Thompson, the pastor of Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, and other pastors in East Columbus are uniting their members to form an emergency neighborhood watch.

The move comes after police say two students at East Columbus Magnet Academy were abducted and sexually assaulted.

"One incident happened in the woods next to my church. We want a safe haven for our children,"Thompson said.

"We have combined our efforts so that we can make a statement first of all, to our children that there is a presence that will look out for them- for their safety, for their protection and for their well being. Also to let anybody know that coming in and taking advantage of our children will not be an easy task," said H. Randy Stephen II, the pastor of Forrest Park Baptist Church.

Meanwhile, Greystone Properties is holding seminars for residents and their children hosted by officials from the local Sexual Assault Support Center.

"You cannot believe that something like that happens in a town like this. You just don't think it's going to happen to you. When you let your guard down is when something could happen though. If we can help one child be safe then we've accomplished something," said Mary Thompson, District Manager for Greystone Properties.

"This behavior is unacceptable- the molesting of our children. We're going to put all eyes and ears on deck that we might catch this perpetrator and let them know that these dastardly deeds are not acceptable in East Columbus," added Dr. Ralph Huling, the pastor of Saint James Missionary Baptist Church.

Greystone residents can attend a seminar held Wednesday night at 6 PM at the Inverness Phase 2 Rec Center on Old Moon Road.

East Columbus churches and members will be meeting Thursday night at 6 PM at Saint James Missionary Baptist Church. That meeting is open to the public.

Officials in the Columbus Police Department say detectives are actively working the leads they have in the latest abduction and sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, reported last week. So far, an arrest has not been made.

Meanwhile, East Columbus churches will be driving those students who walk to school in their church vans.

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