Arrest made in Ramona church break-in

RAMONA, Calif. - A man suspected of ransacking a Ramona church last week is in custody, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Christopher Szumski, 34, was arrested Tuesday morning during a traffic stop on Interstate 8 near Main Street in El Cajon. A passenger in the vehicle, identified as 19-year-old Brandon Tye, was also taken into custody.

Sheriff's officials found stolen property in the vehicle, and both men were booked into Central Jail on two counts of burglary and possession of stolen property.

During interviews with detectives, Szumski and Tye allegedly admitted to burglarizing the church as well as committing a home burglary in San Marcos.

On April 14, safes, cash and priceless items were stolen from St. Mary's in the Valley Episcopal Church, and surveillance video showed a man approach an office door and kick in a window.

The safes contained the church's Sunday offerings, petty cash and blank checks. Many sacred items were stolen as well, including items used for communion, like engraved silver plates and chalices and even the communion wine. A supply room used to make quilts for people around the world was also raided and three irons were stolen.

The safes were found in a Dumpster in Lakeside, sheriff's officials said.

For the 120 church members who worship there, the theft was heartbreaking.

"We're seeing the whole spectrum of grief and emotion, anger and grief, and confusion and fear," Reverend Gwynn Freund said last week.

After 10News' first story aired last week, several viewers contacted the station with tips -- that were passed on to the sheriff's department -- regarding the person seen in the surveillance video. Additionally, sheriff's officials said that over the course of their investigation they received multiple tips from the community regarding the identity of the suspect.

Sheriff's officials said with the help of the tips and information from the public, investigators were able to focus their probe on Szumski and placed him under surveillance.

Sheriff's officials said the investigation is ongoing.

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