Car crashes into East Side church, driver nowhere to be found

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - An East Side pastor is devastated after discovering a car had crashed inside of his church, and the driver was nowhere to be found.

It happened at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church on East Crockett Street on Sunday afternoon.

“We had our regular service and left the church about 3 o’clock,” said Robert Forte, the pastor of the church for 45 years. “A call came in from the alarm company at 3:22, but all it said was that some activity was taking place.”

Forte said he called a few deacons, who told him it was more than just average activity taking place.
“I came back to the church and found a Mazda had backed through the wall, through a hallway and into the library,” Forte said. “It destroyed two rooms and a hallway. It had destroyed furniture and computers and desks and everything. Just imagine a car backing into your house!”

He said when police arrived, they told him that the case would be handled as a criminal mischief case.

“There was nobody in the car when we got here, so we don’t know what happened,” Forte said. “I am going to assume that nobody was hurt in there. I don’t know whether the driver got hurt and tried to go to the hospital or if they just simply tried to get away before the police got here. I just know the car was empty.”

Forte said he is now more concerned about the driver than the actual damage to his church, which is in the thousands.

“I pray that he is not hurt,” said Forte. “I wish I would have been here in time to speak with them. Maybe he was a child of a member. Maybe he was a troubled person. Maybe he was a decent person who just made a mistake. If I could talk to him now, I would have told him he could have at least stayed around to let us know what happened. Had he stayed around, he might have been able to explain to the police what happened. ‘I lost control,’ or something.”

Forte said the administration office, containing many important documents, was destroyed, along with half of the library, where several irreplaceable books were impacted.

“I cannot visualize an accident to where you pull into a driveway, you got to turn your car around and you back all the way into a church,” Forte said. “That takes speed. I can’t picture that as an accident, but I am a pastor. I am not the police.”

Forte said he has rebuilt the church four times due to growth, and though it will be hard to do so again, he knows it is possible.

“We will get through this damaged building, and we will make sure that this damaged building does not cause us to lose our faith,” Forte said. “You can destroy the temple. What you can’t destroy is the faith.”

If you have any information that can help San Antonio detectives in this case, you are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 210-224-STOP.

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