Neighbors worried about safety risks after church roof collapses

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Around 6PM on Friday the roof of an abandoned church collapsed on the corner of 12th Street and Magnolia Street. “It was a deep thunder sound” said one neighbor. Another said it “sounded like an earthquake or a sonic bomb.”

Police have charged the church’s owner, Augustus Sullivan, with reckless endangerment after they said he failed to address the church’s structural problems. It’s been empty for the last 5 years and been a problem for the city of Harrisburg for the last 3. With the warmer temperatures, Friday proved to be the breaking point.

“If it comes down where you gonna run? You can’t get out of the way of that thing when it comes down” said one neighbor. The church is currently blocked off, but neighbors say there’s usually cars parked right beside it. A school is also nearby and neighbors say the kids walk right past the church on the way home.

Earlene Cavitt lives right nearby. She said “they are in danger with this building as it stands right now. So the sooner it can be demolished would make I’m sure all of us people that live in this area, make us sleep better.”

Roughly 10 people that live nearby were displaced after the roof collapsed. Harrisburg’s acting Fire Chief said they plan to look at the church’s structural integrity on Monday and evaluate what to do next.

Sullivan, the church’s owner, was released Saturday morning.  He’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 3rd.