Three Verona Church Statues Damaged
Man with hammer batters statues at Our Lady of the Lake Church Sunday.
A man using a hammer damaged religious statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and St. John Sunday on the grounds of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Verona.
The man ran with the hammer from the church grounds screaming anti-religious slurs after being discovered by a neighborhood woman, according to Verona Police Public Information Officer Capt. Mitchell Stern.
Tuesday afternoon, Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark, described the incident as “extremely disheartening.”
“It’s unfortunate someone would do vandalism to any religious institution,” Goodness said.
“Any kind of vandalism isn’t right and isn’t appropriate,” he added.
Goodness said he is aware police are following up on the incident and hopes the situation will be quickly resolved.
Church officials were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Stern described the man as white, in his late 30s or early 40s with a medium build, clean cut, with brown or black hair and a clean-cut beard. The man was wearing dark-colored shorts and a white T-shirt.
This is the second vandalism incident in the last three months at the church, Stern said.
In May, police said someone damaged statues at the church although police believe that incident was a case of criminal mischief.
Police are treating Sunday's incident as a hate crime, Stern said, because the suspect shouted anti-religious slurs while fleeing.
Stern said police consider this incident a “top priority,” and have a State Police sketch artist scheduled to work with the eyewitness tomorrow. State Police are not involved in the investigation.
“An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions,” Stern said.
Anyone with information should call Verona Police at (973) 239-5000.