SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - A man was caught by a Sunrise church’s surveillance cameras vandalizing a statue of Jesus, knocking it off its pedestal, smashing it to pieces and setting the garden where it once stood on fire.
Sunrise Police said the man went on a rampage at Saint Bernard Catholic Church near North University Drive and Sunset Strip at around 1:20 a.m., Sunday.
“It’s very unsettling. It’s upsetting,” Babette Heron, the church’s office manager, said. “These statues have been with St. Bernard’s for over 30 years and have a lot of sentimental value, and price-wise, we’re looking at $6,000 worth of damage.”
Parishioners said they are coming to terms with the man who was caught on video vandalizing the statue.
In the video, the shirtless man could be seen approaching the statue of Jesus outside the parish center, raises his arms with a heavy object in hand and smashes the statue. Two other statues were decapitated and tossed in a nearby sewer.
After the man smashed the statue of Jesus, he returned to pour an accelerant all over the garden where the statue once stood. After he poured the accelerant, he sent the garden up in flames.
“It could have been so much worse,” Heron said. “The whole building could have caught fire. It could have spread, and it’s a sad situation, the hate that it looks like he had towards the Catholic faith or towards whatever it was.”
The statue of Jesus Christ was left broken, its hands severed and its remnants are being kept inside while the parish staff figure out their next steps.
“The way that the parishioners– it hurts them,” Heron said. “They’re sad. I saw when they come in, and you can feel it.”
Meanwhile, they said they are praying for the man who vandalized the statue while, at the same time, someone can name him.
The Archdiocese of Miami said the archbishop has paid attention to similar crimes in the past. He said he wants these types of incidents to be prosecuted as hate crimes.
If you have any information, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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