ST. GEORGE- Eight churches belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located in St. George and Hurricane were vandalized overnight Wednesday in what appears to be a series of incidents.
Although the incidents are still under investigation, police say they believe all the incidents are related and all involve the same type of damage: shattered windows. An LDS church was also vandalized in Washington on Tuesday night and police are trying to determine if it is related to the other incidents.
In all, six churches in St. George were affected and two in the hurricane. Although the times of the incidents have not been determined, the damage in all the churches was discovered between 2 and 3 am.
Police have identified a vehicle involved in some or all of the incidents: a white or silver Honda sedan with a rear spoiler and a damaged driver’s side fender.
There was also a description by a witness of at least two people in the car.
“They shouted profanity at the person reporting”, Oofficer Tiffany Mitchell with St. George Police said.
Mitchell added that having to respond to people attacking places of worship is disturbing.
“It’s certainly unnecessary and discouraging for people to take the time to damage something when they can put their effort into something else,” Mitchell said. “If you have a problem with someone, there’s a better way to deal with it. There is a better way to handle things.
Irene Caso, spokesperson at the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, also spoke out against the incidents.
“Our church buildings are places of worship and community gathering where all are welcome,” Caso told St. George News. “We are saddened by the vandalism that has occurred at various meeting venues in the area. ”
Five of the six incidents in St. George occurred on the Dinosaur Crossing and airport side of the city, with the exception of a church in the Tonaquint area.
Hurricane Police Officer Dan Raddatz said after hurricane police learned of the incidents in St. George, they began checking churches in their area.
Officers found two separate LDS churches that were impacted by the hurricane – one with two shattered windows and a shattered window from the other.
“Only one pane of the double-glazed windows was broken on each,” Raddatz said. “Our officers started checking all of our churches after hearing about all the other incidents. Between 2 and 3 a.m. we discovered the broken windows. It is not known when they were actually broken.
Hurricane and St. George police said there was no evidence of entry in any of the incidents or any signs of an object that could have been used to break windows. According Forbes magazineit usually costs between $900 and $1,200 to replace a large window.
There does not appear to be a connection to a series of three incidents of vandalism at LDS churches. last augustlike youhe suspects in these incidents remains in the correctional facility of purgatory.
Mitchell said after the incidents in St. George, police came out and checked all the churches in the area and found no further incidents of vandalism. Mitchell added that police are keen to check all churches and places of worship, not just those belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We will protect them all.”
Update July 20, 5 p.m. Added comments from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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