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Woman breaks into church and starts a fire, stabs deputies who were trying to save her with a pen


Dana Elaine Lawton (Source: Hall County Sheriff’s Office/ Facebook)

Zachary Hansen
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A woman is accused of breaking into a storage shed in Hall County before being spotted by a resident.

However, things heated up significantly after that.

Dana Elaine Lawton, 33, of Gainesville, ran to a nearby church, Gainesville Seventh-day Adventist, and lit it on fire before trying to stab deputies with an ink pen multiple times, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

On Sunday shortly before 10 p.m., deputies responded to the church off Old Cornelia Highway near Pierce Road after a fire was reported there, the release said. Firefighters were already at the scene and had noticed a glass door to the building had been shattered.

Deputies searched the church, finding Lawton lying on the floor, the release said. She allegedly refused deputies’ commands, who ended up having to carry her out of the church due to the fire and smoke in the room. It’s unclear how badly the building was damaged as a result of the blaze.

As deputies were taking her into custody outside of the church, she tried to stab them several times with an ink pen, the release said. She also is accused of spitting on two deputies who questioned her as she sat in a patrol car.

When Lawton was allegedly breaking into the nearby storage shed before the fire, she was accompanied by an unidentified man, the release said. He ran into the woods when she ran into the church, which deputies noted was random and not part of a targeted attack.

She faces a count of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of obstruction, Hall County jail records show. She also has two counts of probation violation.

Lawton remains in jail without bond. The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the incident.

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