PRAIRIEVILLE — A St. John Catholic Church parishioner is accused of burglarizing the church and pretending to check the alarm system when deputies came to investigate, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office reported.

Deputies arrived at the church late on Oct. 10 to find Mitchell R. Lynch, 25, 38211 La. 621, Gonzales, in the parking lot, according to a news release from Sheriff Jeffrey Wiley.

Lynch, whom one of the deputies knew to be a parishioner of the church, told deputies that church members had asked him to check the buildings after the burglar alarm went off.

Deputies searched the grounds and found no sign of forced entry, the release stated. They did notice an office door ajar that should have been closed, and also noticed the smell of suspected marijuana smoke in the room, deputies reported.

During their investigation, deputies learned that Lynch had no authority to secure the buildings, and was not permitted use of church keys.

Lynch later told deputies investigating the case that he attempted to burglarize the church on Oct. 10, and did burglarize the church several days before.

Deputies who searched Lynch’s car found several items taken in the previous burglary, the keys to the church, marijuana and a handgun.

Lynch was booked with one count of attempted simple burglary of a church, one count of simple burglary of a church, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and illegal carrying of a weapon.

He was held at the Ascension Parish Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.