Man Arrested For 13th Time At Church

The Johnston County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case against a man arrested 13 times for trespassing at the same rural church.

WTSB News first reported about Elton Eugene Bryant in February. At the time Bryant had been arrested 11 times since April 2012 for trespassing at the Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church at 4440 Piney Grove Road off Highway 210 near the Harnett County line.

Bryant was arrested the 12th time in April. He was convicted last Tuesday on the misdemeanor trespassing charge, given credit for 20 days in jail awaiting trial, and released. On Sunday morning – 5 days after his release – Bryant returned to Piney Grove Church where he was arrested in the parking lot for his 13th time.

Out of the last 5 years, Bryant has spent approximately 4 years of that time in the Johnston County Jail awaiting trial on the trespassing charges. Each time, he’s convicted, ordered by a judge not to return to the church, but does so anyway.

In 2012, court documents indicated a judge requested a mental health evaluation. The results of the evaluation are not public record.

Starting in August 2013, Bryant spent 467 consecutive days in jail. In 2015, he spent 326 days in custody.  After his 2015 release, he was rearrested at the church just 3 days later.

The Johnston County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to WTSB News today (Tuesday) they are taking a closer look at the case.

“We are looking closely into the circumstances surrounding the charge against Mr. Bryant,” Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson said in an email. “However, to ensure the integrity of the judicial process and avoid any potential prejudice to the Defendant, the District Attorney’s Office cannot comment publically at this time.  We will be happy to discuss the matter in detail once the criminal case is resolved.”

Earlier this year Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell issued a statement about the situation.  “Every individual and church family has the right to assemble and worship freely and without fear,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell told WTSB News. “As Sheriff, I will continue to do everything within my authority to ensure this right is available to every person in our county.”

No one knows why Bryant, 50, continues to target the church which is about 2-1/2 miles away from his home. Each time he walks to the church and is arrested on church grounds. On Sunday, he was detained in the parking lot.

In February, Piney Grove Church Senior Pastor Timmy D. Blair Sr. released a written statement to WTSB saying in part, “All people are welcome as long as they have a desire to worship God and glorify His name.  We take very seriously the security of those who worship with us in light of the various shootings and other security concerns that have occurred in churches across our nation over the last few years.  It is my responsibility to insure that our congregation and those who choose to worship at Piney Grove are not intimidated or feel threatened in any way. We seek to assemble and worship freely without fear.”

Bryant is currently being held under a $10,000 bond following his latest arrest. In the previous 12 cases, Bryant has never attempted to post bond.

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  • helplessfool

    This man obviously just wants to stay in jail. He has found an easy way to stay there without hurting anyone.

  • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

    Surely Mr. Bryant must like the comfort of jail, but I would hope that this issue truly gets worked out. There is one of three reasons and may be all three reasons. Such as Sin problem, an
    iniquity problem, or a transgression problem. Has Mr. Bryant these, yes, he has. Now how would one go and resolve the problem. That takes a sit down time and talk out the issues. Now, has the church tried to do this????? It seems the answer by all the arrests, is NO! No matter how much wrong a person does, he has to make things right with ABBA FATHER AND JESUS
    CHRIST OF NAZARETH. And so does THIS BAPTIST CHURCH!

    • Brent Evans

      I know someone that goes to this church and they are just like any other rural church. Southern hospitality and good will. I’m sure the first couple of times he showed up, they attempted to minister to him. There shouldn’t have been any issues.

      This man either has some serious mental health issues. He is a continual nuisance to this church.

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent, yes they are a rural church that should have resolved this issue long ago.
        They should have never allowed it to go this far. If they truly believe in the work of our LORD JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH and believe in forgiveness; this problem could have be corrected. You know the old saying “it takes two to tango”.
        There is active SIN in the CAMP!!!!. Also Mr. Bryant has found comfort in 3 meals
        per day and a bed to lay is head. Does Mr. Bryant have a mental problem, I say
        “No” to that, but he does have a sin problem. Two wrongs do not make it right.
        The Baptist Church is just as guilty as Mr. Bryant is!

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent, did you get my last email?

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent did you get my email?

  • Jocogirl

    I would like to know what has happened to cause all this. There is some reason he keeps coming back. Yes it may be a mental health issue. None of us know for sure the true reason why he keeps getting charged. Last time the pastor made a statement but never gave the reason why this man is not welcomed at the church.

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  • helplessfool

    This man obviously just wants to stay in jail. He has found an easy way to stay there without hurting anyone.

  • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

    Surely Mr. Bryant must like the comfort of jail, but I would hope that this issue truly gets worked out. There is one of three reasons and may be all three reasons. Such as Sin problem, an
    iniquity problem, or a transgression problem. Has Mr. Bryant these, yes, he has. Now how would one go and resolve the problem. That takes a sit down time and talk out the issues. Now, has the church tried to do this????? It seems the answer by all the arrests, is NO! No matter how much wrong a person does, he has to make things right with ABBA FATHER AND JESUS
    CHRIST OF NAZARETH. And so does THIS BAPTIST CHURCH!

    • Brent Evans

      I know someone that goes to this church and they are just like any other rural church. Southern hospitality and good will. I’m sure the first couple of times he showed up, they attempted to minister to him. There shouldn’t have been any issues.

      This man either has some serious mental health issues. He is a continual nuisance to this church.

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent, yes they are a rural church that should have resolved this issue long ago.
        They should have never allowed it to go this far. If they truly believe in the work of our LORD JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH and believe in forgiveness; this problem could have be corrected. You know the old saying “it takes two to tango”.
        There is active SIN in the CAMP!!!!. Also Mr. Bryant has found comfort in 3 meals
        per day and a bed to lay is head. Does Mr. Bryant have a mental problem, I say
        “No” to that, but he does have a sin problem. Two wrongs do not make it right.
        The Baptist Church is just as guilty as Mr. Bryant is!

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent, did you get my last email?

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        Brent did you get my email?

  • Jocogirl

    I would like to know what has happened to cause all this. There is some reason he keeps coming back. Yes it may be a mental health issue. None of us know for sure the true reason why he keeps getting charged. Last time the pastor made a statement but never gave the reason why this man is not welcomed at the church.