IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Two brothers who were arrested after barricading themselves inside an Irvine megachurch were not armed with real weapons, authorities said Tuesday.
The men were reported entering Harvest Orange County located at 17600 Gillette Avenue just after 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to Irvine police.
The SWAT team was activated and around 9:20 p.m., the suspects threw a smoke bomb outside of the church and exited the building, one without clothing and one partially clothed, police said.
Paul Vincent Vielkind, 34, and Brandon Joseph Vielkind, 22, of Riverside were taken into custody without incident and charged with burglary and felony vandalism.
Police told CBS2’s Jasmine Viel the men were actually holding fake rifles when they broke a church window, entered the building and then stripped down out of their clothes.
A security guard next door to the church says his colleague saw it happen and says the men were “naked as they scaled the fence with what looked to be long paintball type guns”.
Harvest OC is a nondenominational church led by Riverside-based pastor Greg Laurie, who posted a message about the crime to his followers on Facebook.
“We appreciate the extraordinary work of the local authorities and are thankful to God for the prayers and abundant support of our community,” Laurie wrote. “The fact that the situation was resolved so quickly attests to the professionalism of the Irvine Police Dept. and also to the safety we already had in place as a congregation.”
While the investigation is ongoing, a church statement describes the break-in as an “extravagant act of vandalism”.
Crews removed broken posters of Laurie from the scene early Thursday morning.
Police are investigating any possible connection the suspects may have to the church.
Church leaders were taking additional security measures, but services were expected to resume as normal.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)