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Police identify person of interest in Rio Grande City church vandalism case

8 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Friday, February 07 2020 Feb 7, 2020 February 07, 2020 4:42 PM February 07, 2020 in News - Local

RIO GRANDE CITY – Rio Grande City police have identified a person of interest in a church vandalism case.

Parishioners have been stopping by Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where Friday morning it was discovered it had been vandalized.

Glass doors and windows inside were shattered. It appeared someone had hit it with an object. It was initially believed someone had shot at the windows. According to Father Tom Sepulveda, it looks more to be a hammer or an ice pick was used.

The vandals were successful in breaking a lot of other glass. Volunteers have been cleaning up all day.

Fr. Tom told CHANNEL 5 NEWS some of the more costly repairs are going to be the windows. The windows had some etchings, making them a little more expensive to produce. Volunteers had to break the rest of it and clear it up.

Pages from hymn books were torn. Parishioners cleaning inside said it appears to be the same page from the hymn books was torn out and deposited throughout all the pews. There were some crumpled up and left on the altar. So, there seems to be a message sent by whoever is responsible, but the message seems to be somewhat unclear. The page torn out of the books had “Bread of the World” printed on it and on the other side, “Take and Eat This Bread”.

The concreate filling of the stained glass windows made them much harder to break. The glass is much thicker, but according to Fr. Tom there wasn’t much damage visible to those windows.

Parishioners remain concerned about what happened. Fr. Tom told us there doesn’t appear to be anything missing. So, whatever happened was possibly not a robbery, just vandalism. It’s still unexpected and to parishioners it’s troubling.

“It was scary, because when I saw the entrance and the door was all broken up. I was like, this is too much. I didn't expect it to be that overwhelming,” said Joe Vera, a parishioner.

Although it just happened, the church is already thinking ahead. It is trying to figure out a way to close off the doors, because, according to Fr. Tom, they will continue to have mass as regularly scheduled.

The church says donations are welcome to help with repairs.

Church leaders say they do not want to press charges in the case. The vandals caused an estimated $3,000 in damages. Police are working to learn the motive behind the incident.

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