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'Always sorry when they have to use force': Baldwin sheriff adds details in hammer attack on deputy

48-year-old Fiesta Murphy was living in the church. She broke pictures and mirrors, wrote on the walls, covered motion detectors, and started a fire.

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — Tuesday evening, Baldwin County deputies shot a woman inside of a church.

Pastor Donald Tuft came to check on his church, Antioch Primitive Baptist Church, Tuesday evening around 5 p.m.

He says Monday, a church member had called him saying she noticed folding chairs sitting outside on the porch, which they didn't leave outside. 

When he got to the church Tuesday, he realized something was off.

He says other than the chairs, there was broken glass outside, a TV had been thrown through their side window, and he also heard the air conditioning was on. 

He then called the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office to check things out.   

After entering, deputies found that 48-year-old Fiesta Murphy was inside the church.

Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee says Murphy hit Deputy Ernesto Lopez in the arm with a hammer, injuring him. Then, Lopez and Deputy Greg See shot Murphy.

Massee says Murphy was just released from the Baldwin County jail last Friday on criminal trespassing and obstruction charges.

He says she's already faced similar charges in Cobb, DeKalb, and Bibb counties.

He says during her stay, she covered the motion detectors, broke pictures and mirrors, wrote on the walls and started a fire.

"We found where she had made a little bed with a pillow and some sheets on the counter back in the church," Massee said

Investigators don't believe the church was being targeted. They think the Pennsylvania native was just looking for a place to stay.

"Here was a church, vacant. As the sign says, they have services every fourth Sunday, and she may have thought, 'I have a three-week break,' so she had been staying here from what we believe," says Massee.

 Pastor Tuft says this was shocking, but everything is replaceable.

"My main concern is that no one got hurt, and the lady will survive," says Tuft.

This is the second time this year a Baldwin officer has shot a person. Massee says the deputies responded properly.

"I think they acted appropriately in both circumstances, this is just out of the blue," Massee says. 

He adds that it all happened so quickly for officers, and it's a traumatic experience

"They are always sorry when they have to use force, but the other side of that is it shows them just how quickly bad things can happen, and just how close you can come to getting hurt or killed in this line of duty," Massee adds. 

Tuft says the church hopes to reopen for services the fourth Sunday in January.

Murphy is now at a Macon Hospital. Massee said the deputies likely saved Murphy's life by treating her before EMTs arrived. 

The sheriff's office says Murphy is being charged with burglary and arson.

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