Georgia man accused of breaking into Florida church, ‘baptizing’ himself

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — A Georgia man is accused of breaking into a Florida Panhandle church, causing several thousands of dollars worth of damage and then allegedly “baptizing himself” in the sanctuary’s font, authorities said.

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According to a news release from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Derek Porter was arrested on Friday and charged with burglary of an occupied structure, criminal mischief, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputies responding to a burglary call at the Emerald Beach Church of God in Panama City Beach discovered that Porter had allegedly used a cinderblock to smash the window of the church to enter the building, WSB-TV reported. Porter was out on bond on a burglary charge in Georgia, according to the television station.

According to the sheriff’s office, a female employee was inside the church and fled after hearing the glass breaking.

Deputies said that Porter allegedly caused $8,000 worth of damage and loaded several electronics, including a television and a computer into a truck, along with the church’s money bag.

Authorities also allegedly found Porter in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, the sheriff’s office said.

According to deputies, Porter allegedly said he could not remember what happened when he was inside the church. He allegedly said that he recalled baptizing himself in the church’s baptism pool. Porter added that “something” was holding his head down while he was under the water, the sheriff’s office said.

Porter was not the only one using the baptismal pool. As deputies searched the church, a K-9 decided “to beat the heat and cool off in the baptismal,” WMBB-TV reported.

Body camera video showed deputies laughing as the K-9 splashed in the baptismal pool, according to the television station.

Porter is being held in the Bay County Jail, with bail set at $19,500, WSB reported.

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