NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police could be seen outside a Central New York Church on Wednesday as they continue their investigation into the alleged beating of two brothers.
Police were at the Word of Life Church all day Wednesday. Police said brothers, 19-year-old Lucas Leonard and 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, were brutally beaten inside the church after they said they didn’t want to be members anymore.
According to police, that’s when family members and service members violently beat them with an electrical cord. Lucas died from the beating. Christopher was left with bruises and marks on his body.
Cell phone video provided by neighbor Stacy Wendell showed church leaders Traci and Jerry Erwin being told to leave the building. Afterwards, police moved in to continue their investigation.
It was unknown what police were doing inside, but there were several unidentified cars on the side of the building.
Stephen Olsen supports the church. He stood outside the building holding a sign that said “Freedom of religion. Remaining members have the right to rebuild and reform.” Olsen said the church members were “nice people.”
“I feel that just because a few of them did wrong doesn’t mean that the rest of them should be, you know, taken back like this,” he said. “The community turned against them easy. They shouldn’t be trying to take away their church. There was a reason they joined in the first place.”
Three church members are out on bail, but the brothers’ half-sister and parents are still in jail.