FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Police are reviewing surveillance video after someone damaged eight statues outside a New Jersey church.
Officials believe the vandalism occurred between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Thursday outside St. Mary’s Church in Franklin Township.
“It looks like some type of a blunt instrument was used, maybe a baseball bat or some type of sledgehammer,” Franklin Township Police Chief Michael Rock told CBS Philly.
Many of the statues were decapitated.
“Whoever did it, they were very precise,” Peter Feuerherd, director of communications for the Diocese of Camden, told 1010 WINS.
Parishioners in the Gloucester County community were shocked by the vandalism and said there has never been anything like it.
“There was a sense of loss and a sense of worry and bafflement about what could compel somebody to do this kind of crime,” Feuerherd said.
Depending on what police learn, Rock said vandalism charges could be upgraded to a hate crime.
“If we could determine that this was the result of a bias incident then obviously the charges will be enhanced,” says Rock.
The parish has a 24-hour prayer group, meaning someone is almost always at the sanctuary, but so far no witnesses have come forward, CBS Philly reported.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Franklin Township Police Department at (856) 694-1415.
Feuerherd said the statues will be examined to determine if they can be repaired or if they have to be replaced.
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