NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Statues were vandalized at a Brooklyn church early Sunday morning, and now the NYPD is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, either. Police are hoping surveillance video leads to an arrest, CBS2’s Clark Fouraker reported Monday.
The fragments of the statues have been cleaned up as police look for the man caught on camera throwing them to the ground.
Investigators said the suspect had just urinated on a group of angel statues in front of Our Lady Consolation Catholic Church in Williamsburg at around 4 a.m. on Sunday when he pushed two of them to the ground, leaving them destroyed on the sidewalk along Metropolitan Avenue.
“There used to be a time when neighbors kept an eye out and they knew what was going on in the neighborhood. People had respect for where they worshiped or other people worshiped, but now there’s no real sense of commitment to that,” Williamsburg resident Phil Smrek said.
Smrek goes to the parish sometimes and said it’s not the first time it has been vandalized. Vandals attacked the church back in July.
On Monday in front of the church, the remnants of the pedestals that once offered a place outside for people to pray and reflect were strewn across the ground.
“I heard that a crazy man — I don’t know — was over here and break everything,” parishioner Margaret Torres said. “That church is very good. Nobody has any problems.”
The NYPD released a photo of what’s left of the statues. Police sources told CBS2 it’s believed a strip of bars close by is what’s contributing to repeat vandalism issues.
“It’s not like it’s a dodgey neighborhood or anything, but it’s kind of on the main streets in Williamsburg. So there are a bunch of people who just kind of walk around here, so it makes it an easy target,” resident Asmarina Zerabruk said.
CBS2’s Fouraker spoke to a number of parishioners coming in on Monday morning who were not sure why someone would target their church. They said they want to pray for him.
Police described the suspect as a white man, approximately 30 years old, 6 foot, with a light complexion and straight, short brown hair. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored pea coat, beige slacks and Vans sneakers.
The man left the church southbound on Metropolitan Avenue toward Bedford Avenue, police said. The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident and is requesting help from the public.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.