A statue of Jesus Christ was found toppled and beheaded at a Catholic church in Miami, an act of vandalism that probably will be investigated as a hate crime, church officials said.
The attack that occurred sometime between late on July 14 and the morning of July 15 at Miami-Dade’s Good Shepherd Catholic Church was likely targeted, Rev. Edivaldo da Silva said. The statue was decapitated and removed from its pedestal, he said.
The local archdiocese said that police will likely investigate the statue desecration as a hate crime.
"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 in recent days in the midst of nationwide unrest.
Surveillance footage has been given to police, Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami, said.
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 earlier this month. Meanwhile, a statue of the Virgin Mary was desecrated in Tennessee over the weekend.
"We don't know if this was the targeted desecration of a sacred statue and our Catholic faith, or some kind of misguided prank, but it hurts," Jim Wogan, director of communications for the Diocese of Knoxville, said in a statement. "For whatever reason, we are living in a very chaotic time, and anger seems to be the default setting for people."