By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale police officers arrested two men who were apparently sleeping in a church for several weeks without the permission of the pastor, according to a police report.
Thomas Smith, 54, and Leslie Jenei, 60, were arrested on Monday after police attempted to stop Smith for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk in the 4400 block of Lowell Avenue.
While in his patrol unit, the officer attempted to stop Smith, but he made an immediate right onto the lawn of the Spirit of the Foothill Los Angeles Christian Church in the 4400 block of Lowell Avenue.
The officer got out of his vehicle and ran into the church. The officer knocked on the door and yelled through the door identifying himself as police officer and asked him to open the door. There was no response after several attempts.
The pastor of the church was contacted and arrived at the location. He allegedly stated that no one was allowed to sleep in the church but Smith and Jenei were allowed to be at the location during the day.
The pastor opened the door and after an investigation Smith was found hiding in the church. Jenei was found hiding in another area of the church. When the officer asked them why they did not reply to his knocking even when he identified himself as an officer, Smith allegedly told the officer he thought it was the landlord, who he is afraid of.
At first Jenei said he did not hear anything, then allegedly stated he had heard someone yelling but was not certain what was going on.
Two empty beers were found on the first floor of the church. According to the GPD report, Jenei appeared to have been drinking.
Smith reportedly added that he was a sex registrant and was told if he were arrested again would be placed on parole, according to the police report. He allegedly admitted that he had permission to be at the church during the daytime when the pastor was present but had been sleeping inside the church for several weeks. Jenei also allegedly admitted to staying at the church during the evening. Jenei also had an outstanding warrant in his name.
The men were arrested for “intent to commit theft and unlawfully dwell in the building” and for obstructing a peace officer in the course of his duty.