Police are investigating an attack on a priest Monday in Merrillville as a hate crime, an official said.
The Rev. Basil John Hutsko was knocked unconscious by an unknown person around 9 a.m. inside St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church, 557 W. 57th Ave., Commander Jeff Rice, Merrillville police spokesman, said.
Attempts to contact Hutsko and St. Michael were not immediately returned Tuesday.
Two area priests who know him expressed disbelief.
“He’s a good priest and like everybody said, he’s not accused of anything,” the Rev. Steven Koplinka, of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Parish in Munster, said. “Why attack him?”
Hutsko was getting ready to celebrate liturgy when he was attacked Monday, the Rev. Andrew Summerson, of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Whiting, said. Koplinka said that Hutsko “got attacked from the back and he didn’t see who it was.”
“It’s a shame,” the Rev. Andrew Summerson, said.
Summerson and Kopinka said that Hutsko is “an innocent man.”
“It’s just like they’re targeting the wrong guys, you know?” Koplinka said. “The rest of us try our best to be good priests and unfortunately this happened.”
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