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Gatesville church saved by nearby neighbors and members passing by

A boy playing basketball across the street saw smoke coming from a church building and told his parents. A pair of members passing by also helped limit the damage.

GATESVILLE, Texas — On Sept. 3, a suspect attempted arson at Live Oak Baptist Church in Gatesville. It wasn't the first time that suspect tried to break into the church, but it was the first successful attempt.

The suspect broke in through a window in the fellowship hall and started a fire inside.

Strangely, the suspect walked out of the building and called the authorities themselves. But before that, some people who happened to be in the right place at the right time took action.

Across the street, Jastin Muegge, whose family belongs to the church, was playing basketball outside. He saw smoke and immediately alerted his parents.

"Jastin told his dad, he said at that point and they came around and saw the smoke," Live Oak Baptist Church Deacon Chairman Jerry Casey said. "So I think he came over and started trying to disconnect the power and maybe call the fire department." 

Around that same time, a couple who belongs to the church just happened to be driving past. 

"At the same time they started trying to help I think the two of them Mike and Tim, were able to disconnect and pull the circuits for the electricity for the buildings and things and shut that down," Casey said.

The damage was limited thanks to the quick actions of the people who called the authorities. 

The Gatesville Fire Department said if they had been ten or so minutes later, the church may not be still standing.

Casey says since then, they've been able to still have church like usual.

"We have a small chapel to the side they have provided a generator so we have it powered back up because everything comes from here," Casey said. "So they pair that up. So we have Sunday school classes and yes, we met last Sunday and everything was fine."

Most importantly, he's thankful that they did something instead of just standing idly by. Or else his church home for almost 48 years, maybe rubble right now.

"Most people will just look and take a picture of it, but they didn't. They came and took care of it so that made a tremendous difference for us. It really saved us a lot a lot of time and a lot of damage," Casey said. 

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