“Parishioners Were on the Sidewalk Crying”: Vandal Strikes Brooklyn Churches, Synagogue

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Police at the 68th Precinct were questioning a suspect in connection with a rash of attacks on religious institutions in Bay Ridge discovered early Tuesday morning.

Four churches and a prep school were splattered with red paint, according to Police Officer Sophia Tassy-Mason, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department. Tassy-Mason said the vandalism was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. on July 30. “These incidents are being investigated as hate crimes,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

US Rep. Michael Grimm, state Sen. Marty Golden, and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis had just finished a press conference outside Saint Anselm Catholic Church, one of the sights targeted by the vandal, condemning the attack when word came in that the 68th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit had brought in a suspect for questioning.

“We have an individual in custody. We are questioning him,” Police Officer Vito Viola of the 68th Precinct said. “We believe he is the same individual on a security video and in some still shots we have,” the officer said.

The vandal splattered red paint on two statues, of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, outside Saint Anselm Catholic Church at 356 82nd St., spray painted the word “no” at the front entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, at 415 81st St., and on the front wall at a Lutheran church on Ridge Ridge Boulevard. Curiously, the word “on” was found spray painted near the entrance of Bay Ridge Prep, a private school at 7420 Fourth Ave. “He might have decided to reverse himself,” Tassy-Mason said as to why the word “on” was found there instead of “no.”

The word “no” at the entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center was painted in large letters that could be seen from more than two blocks away.

The fifth site, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, at 8401 Ridge Boulevard, suffered significant damage, according to Christopher Elison, a church member. Red paint was discovered on six of the church’s doors, on a flagpole on the front lawn, and on the cornerstone of the church, he said. “It was pretty bizarre,” he said at the press conference. “It was a horrible sign,” he added.

The paint-splattered statues outside St. Anselm Church were discovered early in the morning. “There were parishioners out here on the sidewalk crying,” said Golden, who was at the scene at 7:30 a.m. with his deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione. Quaglione a member of the St. Anselm Parish Pastoral Planning Council condemned the vandalism as “an act of hatred that will not be tolerated.”

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