Isaiah Cantrell, 30, of El Paso, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana, as reported by the El Paso Times.
Cantrell allegedly told police that he destroyed the statue because the statue “should be a darker skin color,” he said, KVIA reported.
The rector of St. Patrick, the Rev. Trini Fuentes, said in a statement that “I am in shock and we at the cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation.”
“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us. I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass,” Bishop Mark J. Seitz said in a statement.
“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” the bishop added. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us, but unseen.”
Cantrell was charged with two counts of theft after an investigation found he was responsible for the theft of a Trump campaign sign and a Thin Blue Line flag at a residence in El Paso, according to KTSM.
Magistrate Penny Hamilton said Cantrell has a lengthy arrest history and declined to lower his bond from $20,000, KVIA reported.
In the midst of riots and unrest triggered by George Floyd’s death over the summer, a number of churches have been vandalized.
In mid-July, a statue of Jesus Christ was found toppled and beheaded in Miami.
“They had some powerful hands to remove it. Seeing what is happening in our country, I presume so, but we don’t have 100 percent assurance,” Rev. Edivaldo da Silva told Florida news station WSVN at the time.
“This crime reflects the increasing attacks on the Catholic church across the country,” the archdiocese said in a statement, referring to a series of arson attempts on churches.
Over the summer, similar acts of vandalism have included the toppling of the statue of Rev. Junipero Serra, the priest who founded the California mission system. In another incident, a man attempted to set a Florida church on fire after crashing into it in July. Meanwhile, a statue of the Virgin Mary was desecrated in Tennessee in July.