The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Royal British Navy officer charged in incident at downtown Fredericksburg church
By KEITH EPPS
An officer in the Royal British Navy was arrested early Saturday after he broke into a Fredericksburg church and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, police said.
Edmund Whitehead, 22, of Wales was charged with burglary, destruction of property and assault on a law-enforcement officer. The latter charge stemmed from Whitehead spitting on a police officer during his arrest, Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said. The other charges involved Fredericksburg Baptist Church at 1019 Princess Anne St., one of the oldest and largest churches in the area.
Whitehead is a second lieutenant in the British military force, police said. He was temporarily stationed at Quantico for some sort of training exercises.
According to Bledsoe, the incident began with what turned out to be an apparently unrelated burglary at a downtown business. An employee at one of the local nightspots reported seeing a man kick in the back door of City Lights, a hair salon at 1004 Charles St.
Police found the door kicked in, but did not find a suspect. The witness gave police a description of the suspect and officers began searching the area.
A short time later, two officers who were searching while riding bicycles heard glass breaking at the church. After calling for backup, they saw a large object, later determined to be a door, come through a stained-glass window from the inside.
More loud noises were heard as officers surrounded the building. A few moments later, the suspect walked outside, saw police and surrendered.
While being taken into custody, Bledsoe said the suspect spit on a police officer. The suspect, who was highly intoxicated, continued spitting after being placed in a police cruiser, police said. He also threatened to kick out the windows and made derogatory comments to a K-9 officer, police said.
Police checked the building and found two stained-glass windows broken and a large, red antique door was damaged. An interior door that had been removed from its hinges was the one that had been thrown through the window. The suspect had apparently forced open a lock on an exterior door to get inside, Bledsoe said.
The windows were described as “priceless.” Police estimated the damage to the windows alone at more than $20,000, but Bledsoe said that was only a rough estimate.
Bledsoe said Whitehead does not match the description given of the suspect in the City Lights incident. During that time frame, police also found damage to a rear door at Olde Town Butcher at 405 William St. That door had also been kicked, but the suspect did not get inside.