AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police were searching Sunday night for whoever was behind a disturbing vandalism spree targeting churches in Suffolk County with satanic graffiti.
In the latest incident, Suffolk County police say someone spray painted the demonic symbols at Prayer Tabernacle Church of God in Christ on Great Neck Road in North Amityville sometime Saturday. As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, a satanic inverted pentagram was found on the wall of the building.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Boy Critically Hurt In Apparent Drive-By Shooting, Police Say
It was is the fourth instance of vandalism against churches in Amityville since late Friday.
Police say the first three crimes happened sometime between 9:30 p.m. Friday and 10:55 a.m. Saturday.
Shaw Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Zion Gospel Church on Warren Street, and Amityville Full Gospel Tabernacle in Amityville were all targeted, according to police.
“We were quite alarmed being that the church has been in the neighborhood for over 50 to 60 years,” Reverend Dr. C.R. Price of Zion Gospel told WCBS 880’s Myles Miller, adding they’ve removed the graffiti in time for Sunday’s services but the incident is still very alarming.
Worshipers were likewise stunned.
“I walked outside and looked over there and saw it, and I think it’s very despicable, you know,” said neighbor Robert Mungin. “They don’t have to do that to a church.”
Church member Julio Bellvue was asked what he would say who someone would commit such vandalism.
“Stupid, dumb, idiot, not thinking, hate — for what?” Bellvue said. “I don’t know, that church has been there for years, I grew up in the neighborhood.”
The Rev. Walter Willie of Prayer Tabernacle Church – who discovered graffiti on his church Saturday evening – said he had no idea who would want to target houses of worship with such hateful messages.READ MORE: DMX Memorial Set For Saturday At Barclays Center Ahead Of Funeral
“Whether it’s somebody who’s mad with God, or who don’t like churches, or somebody who’s playing games and wants to have a little fun, or whatever,” Willie said. “In any case, it’s not right. It’s not fair.”
Willie said the church just installed new security cameras this week, but unfortunately, they aren’t working properly just yet.
And while he does want the suspect caught, he always preaches forgiveness.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like what the person did but, I forgive him,” Willie said. “I don’t hate them. I hate what they did.”
Police are investigating the incidents as hate crimes.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the recent spree comes just days after parishioners in East Meadow found similar graffiti with a similar message at the New Covenant Church, it’s side doors spray painted with devil worshiping symbols and witchcraft hexes. The front doors were also smashed.
“If somebody came and painted up your house with satanic symbols I think you’d be disturbed too,” New Covenant Pastor Rob Taormina said last week. “You don’t know who they are or if they would come back.”
Nassau County Police have increased patrols in the area, even as parishioners pray for whoever behind the ominous tagging.
“Whoever it is, we are praying that God will just reach out to them and touch them,” Pastor Taormina said.
Reverend Price echoed his sentiment.
“We must forgive,” she said. “We must reach out and pray for the people who did do this, and pray that authorities will be able to apprehend them.”
Police in Long Island are now trying to determine whether the cases may be connected.MORE NEWS: Commuter Alert: Midtown Tunnel Queens-Bound Tube Closed This Weekend
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call the Hate Crimes Section at 631-852-6323 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.