Eight windows of the St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Van Nuys, California, were smashed by a masked suspect with a baseball bat in the early morning hours on Sept. 23.
“When you destroy iconic images that represent religion or ethnicity that’s categorized as a hate crime. In our case, destroying the image of Jesus Christ on the stained glass should be undoubtedly considered a hate crime. As the incident occurred one day after the 30th anniversary of the independence of Armenia,” Fr. Shnork Demirjian, parish priest of St. Peter Church, told The Epoch Times.
He insisted that such vandalization is not just against the church, but Armenians, Christianity, and people with different religions, adding that violence is not the answer, but love is.
The vandalization took place at 17321 Sherman Way around 1:30 am. When a church staff arrived for work in the morning, they found the stained glass window was smashed and immediately reported it to the police.
On Thursday, St. Peter Armenian posted a message on Facebook informing the community about the incident.
“We regret to inform our St. Peter faithful community this morning of a horrific act of vandalism. Late last night a masked individual broke eight of our sanctuary’s stained glass windows, adjacent to the main street of Sherman Way. There is significant amount of stained glass implosion on the property,” St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church said in a Sept. 23 Facebook post.
According to the surveillance camera tape, the suspect is described as a male who is in his 20s, dressed in a black hoodie with a black duffel bag. The suspect smashed eight stained glass windows, that were painted 60 years ago, with a baseball bat.
The church believed this was a premeditated and deliberate incident.
St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church was dedicated in 1963 and has been serving the San Fernando Valley for more than fifty years. Demirjian was assigned to the church in 1991 has served ever since.
This is not the first vandalization that happened this year to a Van Nuys church. In April, the St. Elisabeth Catholic Church was also vandalized by a masked suspect armed with a sledgehammer.
The surveillance camera caught the suspect bashing the Virgin of Guadalupe mural in the face multiple times.