Rash of vandalism hits Texas, Indiana, S. Carolina & Florida churches
On Wednesday, Austin, Texas Police Chief Art Acevedo announced the arrest of eight suspects who were identified as the vandals who twice destroyed property of the St. John's Regular Baptist Association Tabernacle.
Because the vandals are under age, he did not release their names.
The Star Telegram noted that the juveniles caused extensive damage, breaking windows, spraying profanity-laced graffiti and setting fire to carpet.
Local NBC affiliate, KXAN showed video of the damage, including an overturned piano and pews.
Nearly 1,100 miles away, the NBC affiliate in Columbus, Indiana reported vandalism hit three congregations weeks earlier on August 31.
WHTR-TV reported those vandals painted references to the Qur'an and "infidels" at Saint Bartholomew's Catholic Church and similar messages at Lakeview Church of Christ and East Columbus Christian Church.
"It's certainly not a warm and fuzzy verse. It talks about the infidels, their refuge being the fire," Saint Bartholomew's Father Doug Marcotte told the news station, referring to Qur'an 3:151.
More recently, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, about 500 miles south of the Indiana incident, attackers damaged a local congregation's pumpkin patch three successive nights starting this past Saturday.
According to the news team at Fox Carolina, on September 27-28 vandals smashed pumpkins against St. Matthew's Episcopal Church building and slashed others, even damaging plywood cutouts used as props to take photos of visitors.
The money from the pumpkin patch is donated to different community ministry efforts.
Meanwhile, about 400 miles away, the United House of Prayer for All People Church in Jacksonville, Florida was defaced with fecal matter on September 6, according to ActionNewsJax and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
AJC.com reported that Pastor Alonzo Cunningham discovered the damage as he arrived to prepare for a Saturday noon service. He also found broken lamp posts, light fixtures tossed on the roof and a missing barbeque grill.
"Whoever did this, the Lord will hold them accountable for it," Cunningham told ActionNewsJax.
There are no apparent connections among the suspects from state to state.
National crime tacking data for the month-long rash of vandalism was not available at publishing time to see if these recent incidents point to a larger trend overall in church vandalism.