By Linda Looney-Bond
The leader of a local church feels fortunate that no one in his congregation was hurt when a bullet reportedly pierced the roof of the building on New Year's Eve, with hundreds of people inside.
The incident occurred around 11:50 p.m., on Dec. 31, according to Senior Pastor Isaiah Waddy, of Greater St. Peter A.M.E. Church.
The church is located at 9450 Fayetteville Road, in Jonesboro.
Waddy said members of the church called authorities immediately after the incident. He said police called back later to take a report by phone, but that he is disappointed an officer did not respond in person.
"I just thought it would have been the proper thing to do, with over 400 people here for a service, that they would have at least made the people feel comfortable by sending an officer by," said Waddy.
"What goes up must come down," he said, "and we are blessed, because I saw on the news the next day that a child was killed in DeKalb County [by a stray bullet].
"It doesn't seem like we were treated fairly by the police," said Waddy.
Waddy said no one was injured by the bullet. "It happened in one of the hallways, and the majority of the people were in the sanctuary," he said.
"There were about four people in the hallway -- one of them was my wife. She was about two feet away. And there was one mother that was in the infant room breastfeeding her child, and it was about a couple feet away in the hall, where the bullet penetrated the ceiling," Waddy said.
According to a Clayton County Police incident report, an officer called the church back to take the report at 1:30 a.m., on Jan. 1.
"The victim advised a bullet hole was found in the daycare wing of the church," according to the police report. "The victim advised the daycare was unoccupied, when the bullet came through the roof."
Officer Otis Willis, III, a spokesperson for the Clayton County Police Department, said police responded properly to the incident.
"It was handled correctly, because it was not a life-threatening call, and due to the call volume, and that activity [celebratory shooting] was rampant that night," Willis said.
"Unfortunately a round came into the church, but no one was injured, so that made the call a non-life-threatening call. Of course it would have been a whole other situation if you had witnesses who saw the person firing," he said. "It's New Year's Eve. We all know many people were firing weapons. We really wish people wouldn't go out and fire their firearms up in the air like that, because it's an extreme safety issue."
Waddy said he hopes the incident will serve as a lesson to the community.
"Maybe if a story like this gets out, people will understand they have a right to bear arms, but they don't have a right to fire arms just randomly," he said.