Vandalized food bank moving forward

Local News

Volunteers are cleaning up a food bank that was broken into and vandalized overnight.

Four people are locked up, and one suspect is still on the run after assaulting a police officer and burglarizing a food bank in the Fieldale area. According to police, they hurled a fire extinguisher into the open window of a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle, sending him to the hospital with minor injuries.

The same group stole computer equipment, food and fire extinguishers from the food bank at Victory International Ministries and then ransacked the place, according to authorities.

Cake splattered on the refrigerator, white powder from fire extinguishers covering the floors and door frames busted were all part of the mess left behind.

“I’m not going to let the anger get the best of me,” said Sam Benson, a volunteer with Victory International Ministries, a local charity in Fieldale. “Let’s just clean it up and move forward.”

Sam Benson was cleaning up all day Wednesday and said he expected to be there through the night.

“I’ll be here till whenever it’s done,” he said. “It may be – who knows – 5, 6 in the morning. Or maybe even a little later.”

The vandals sprayed donated food with fire extinguishers and threw some of it on the floor, Benson said, adding that he has thrown away 12 garbage bags full of donations.

“We have bills, but God sees through it that we make it,” said Charlie Tunnell, food bank director.

The ministry feeds hundreds of families a month and has provided donations after major disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Tunnell said.

Even though the doors were locked, the suspects got away with eight fire extinguishers, computer equipment and food, he added.

“I want to be angry at them,” Tunnell said. “I guess they need our prayers more than that.”

Now Tunnell said he is looking at ways to tighten security, promising the food bank will move forward.

“We’re going to overcome it,” Tunnell said. “We’re going to be open tomorrow. We’re going to be operating. It’s just going to take a lot of extra work.”

Right now, the food bank is in the process of restocking the food that was lost and could use some help from the community. If you’re interested in helping Victory International Ministries, you can drop off food or monetary donations at the food bank at 100 Marshall Way in Fieldale. You may also mail financial donations to P.O. Box 737, Fieldale, VA 24089.

Police say they have not been able to identify the fifth suspect, who is still on the run. Anyone with information is asked to call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751.

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