MIAMI SHORES, FLA. (WSVN) - Newly released surveillance video shows the moment a vandal defaced a Jesus Christ statue at a Miami Shores church that, police said, was one of two that were targeted a month apart.
The main question the Archdiocese of Miami continues to ask about both acts of vandalism at St. Martha Catholic Church is why.
“Why the attacks on these statues exactly a month apart?” said Archdiocese of Miami spokesperson Mary Ross Agosta.
The security footage shows a person wearing what appears to be a red shirt and carrying a backpack as he approaches one of the statues, stops and throws something, breaking off its right hand, before walking away.
“It’s disheartening. I mean, this is sacrilegious to us,” said Agosta. “The statues are blessed, so they’re sacred, so this is defamation of a sacred space.”
Parishioners who spoke with 7News on Tuesday said they’re still shaken by the acts of vandalism.
“This is my church. I attend the church, and I was surprised,” said Teresa Lefebre. “I don’t believe that. I was, you know, in shock, completely in shock.”
“It was gut-wrenching,” said Wesley Castellanos. “It hurts because, how could you do this to us? This is a private property to begin with. This is our religion; this is what we believe in.”
Miami Shores Police said the first incident took place on Aug. 28.
Investigators said the second incident took place a month later, right across the street from the first statue at the parish office.
This time, Agosta said, the damage was more extensive.
“The head is missing, one arm is missing, and his left hand was destroyed,” she said.
“No head, no hands,” said Lefebre. “Terrible people.”
The archdiocese reported the crimes to police, who continue their search for the vandal.
“This is something that I’ve asked the police department to look at as a hate crime,” said Agosta.
It remains unclear whether both incidents are connected.
The archdiocese said repairs will cost thousands of dollars.
“I would think our human nature would say this is somebody who is hurting,” said Agosta. “Yes, forgiveness, that’s what we’re about, but at the same time, we can’t forget it because it is a crime.”
As for parisioners, they hope the vandal will have a “come to Jesus” moment, but for now, they fear for their safety.
“We’re really concerned. We can’t sleep at night,” said Castellanos. “I hope they catch him, and he understands the consequences of what he did.”
If you have any information on either one of these incidents or the subject’s whereabouts, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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