NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens church was vandalized, and a courageous witness recorded the suspect as he fled the scene.
Sabrina Buckwalter was walking on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, Queens last Friday night when she witnessed a disturbing – and apparently random – act.
“I witness a man pulling up this trashcan, dumping out all the trash onto the street, and hurling it through this church window,” she told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “Why would someone take a trash can and just totally obliterate the front of a church for no reason?”
Inside the Sure Foundation Lutheran Church, surveillance cameras were rolling. They show the metal trash can shattering the window panes, then Buckwalter inspecting the damage.
Shocked and appalled, she would not let the perpetrator get away.
“I’ve got to say something, it’s just like the New York motto: If you see something, say something,” she said.
Buckwalter followed him with her cellphone, capturing clear images that the NYPD is now distributing in an effort to catch the man.
She returned to the scene of the crime the next day to alert church officials she’d witnessed it all.
“It was selfless, it was sacrificial, it was without regard to her own safety,” pastor Tim Bourman said.
“I don’t necessarily recommend that for everyone, but I was very cautious,” Buckwalter said.
The gaping hole in the front of the church is now covered with cardboard, but church leaders say it won’t sway their mission. In fact, it strengthens it.
“We want to help people who are that angry,” Bourman said.
All this comes as the church welcomes a new leader.
“It only motivates me all the more,” pastor David Salinas said.
Contributions have been coming in for repairs, including one check for $1,000 from an anonymous donor.
The church has been the target of burglars in the past.