Wilson man charged with breaking into children’s church in Raleigh

Police on Saturday said a Wilson man looted a children’s church overnight just south of downtown.

Gregory Lamont Melton was apprehended Saturday afternoon after he walked past police investigating the break-in and spoke to the pastor.

“He walked right by while the police was out investigating and waved at us,” said Chris Jones, pastor of the Ship of Zion Church on South Lee Street. “He didn’t know we have cameras. He walked by wearing different clothes. I felt worse for him. He walked right by and spoke, ‘Hey, how y’all doing?’ 

Investigators arrested Melton after reviewing footage of the suspect inside the church, said Donna-maria Harris, a police spokeswoman.

“We were able to make a positive identification,” Harris said. “He wasn’t arrested on the spot. He was floating around the neighborhood.”

Melton, 46, of 910 Meadow St. in Wilson, has been charged with one felony count each of breaking and entering, and larceny after breaking and entering, according to an arrest warrant filed at the Wake County Magistrate’s Office. Melton told police he works for a roofing company.

He was booked into the Wake County jail just before 2:30 p.m., a jail spokesman reported.

A Dell laptop computer, a red book bag and a box of popcorn were stolen from the church – the total value of the items was $1,100, court records show.

But the small haul did not deter a Wake magistrate who set Melton’s bail at $20,000.

Kid City, a modest, one-story cottage, is behind Ship of Zion and serves as its children’s church, B.R. Hull, the arresting officer, reported.

“It’s a part of our church,” Jones said. “Thank God he didn’t ransack the place. He probably thought it was a house. Something struck him that he was in a church when he got in here.”

The break-in was reported at 12:49 p.m. Saturday. Police arrived at the church at 1:04 p.m., Harris reported.

The pastor thinks the break-in happened after midnight.

“We were in church that night. We were here until 11 o’clock,” Jones said. “He broke in right after we left. Nobody in our church knew him. If he had just came and asked us, we would have taken care of him.”

Melton remained in custody Saturday at the Wake County jail.

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald