Dubois County deputies respond to shots fired and explosions near church

The stone cross on the neighbor's property is in view from the pews of the Anderson Valley Christian Church.
The stone cross on the neighbor’s property is in view from the pews of the Anderson Valley Christian Church. This window overlooks the choir and piano which faces the congregation.

Deputies responded to a call of shots fired and explosions near a church in the southeastern portion of the county at about 8:48 a.m. Sunday.

The caller reported that the church congregation at the Anderson Valley Christian Church at 8084 South State Road 145 had witnessed three individuals later identified as 39-year-old Josh McBride, 19-year-old Damian McBride and Karina Vonderheide, all who reside at 8042 South State Road 145, south of Birdseye, shooting a three-round burst twice within the past five minutes. Dispatch was also told that at least two explosions had occurred.

When officers arrived at the church, they found a dead dog’s decapitated body hanging from the bucket of a backhoe in front of a large stone cross located on the neighboring property.

While deputies were at the scene, the residents wrapped the dog in a tarp and then strapped it to the cross.

Police noted that they have been called to several complaints between the church and the neighbors in recent months.

According to elders at the church, one of the neighbor’s dogs allegedly bit an elder at the church recently and a confrontation occurred when the elders notified the neighbors of the incident.

McBride told the Dubois County Free Press that the family has had two dogs and two cats sicken and die in recent weeks. In the case of the dog on the cross, the family took it to a veterinarian in Louisville to have it euthanized. He stated the dog was suffering from kidney failure.

The dog’s head was removed to have a toxicology screening completed to determine what type of poison may have been used to kill the dog. McBride added that he was paying for the toxicology screening but the organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), had been assisting them in some capacity.

McBride asserted that the veterinarian had assured him that the dog had been poisoned. Additionally, McBride alleges he has found rat poison on his property.

In response to the allegations about his dog biting an elder, McBride says they went to court and the case was thrown out. (Five protective orders filed by Damian McBride against various people including elders at the church have been thrown out by the Dubois County Circuit Court, according to court records.)

“I know it was extreme what we did, but they can’t just get away with what they done to my dogs,” McBride said about what happened Sunday. “You know what I mean?”

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While deputies were at the scene Sunday, they advised the neighbors of the state law regarding disorderly conduct. Since all the activities occurred on the Vonderheide property — about 50 feet away from the church — and the guns were never pointed at the church, officers did not immediately file charges against the group.

Deputies stated they are going to forward the case to the Dubois County Prosecuting Attorney’s office to determine what if any charges the McBrides and Vonderheide may face.

The elders of the 108-year-old church reported that about 25 people were attending the service today. They also reported that attendance has dropped from about 45 each Sunday since the situation between the neighbors and the church began in December.

The front of the church.
The front of the church.

This story has been updated and corrected: Josh McBride’s age was changed from 55 to 39. We also added his comments to the story for clarity.  

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