News Channel 8 there as man attempts to break into Tampa church

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — A church maintenance worker thwarts a break-in at a church by using his concealed weapon to keep the suspect at bay.

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News Channel 8 reporter Lindsey Mastis and photographer Malik Parler were driving to another story when they saw a man with his hands up, and another man with a handgun pointed at him outside the Culbreath Chapel at 302 Kennedy Blvd.

Ed Clayton, a maintenance worker with First Baptist Church in Tampa, tells News Channel 8 he decided to bring his concealed weapon because the doors to the church had been breached earlier in the evening. He was tasked with boarding them up. But he worried someone might be inside.

When he got to the church, he said a witness told him what happened, and that the man ran away without going inside. As Clayton worked on boarding up the doors, the suspect came back.church2

“I saw the guy walk up the sidewalk and he saw me and took off running. So I ran down the sidewalk and when I got to the end of the sidewalk I didn’t see anyone,” he recounted. “I look over in the bushes and he’s hiding.”

Clayton said this is the first time he’s had to pull his concealed weapon on someone.

“As soon as I hit the sidewalk over there, I took my weapon out just in case. I didn’t know where he was,” he said.

Soon, a Tampa police officer pulled up with her weapon drawn, and other officers came running. They ordered the suspect on the ground and took him into custody.

Police do not believe Clayton will face any charges because he has a right to protect himself and property. Clayton told News Channel 8 he has a permit for his handgun.

John J. Novobylski booking photo (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)
John J. Novobylski booking photo (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

The suspect has been identified as 23-year-old John Novobylski, from Illinois. He’s facing a felony charge of Criminal Mischief.

The damages to the broken doors were estimated at $4,000.

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