Arrest in vandalism of churches, synagogue

July 30, 2013 7:26:03 PM PDT
Police arrested a man in connection with the vandalism to a number of houses of worship in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Tuesday morning.

55-year-old Chris Papadimitropoulos is charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime, 12 counts of criminal mischief and 12 counts of making graffiti.

All of the incidents happened overnight.

Eagle eyed officers spotted the suspect on the street wearing the same clothes he was on the surveillance video.

Susan Michalski and others around her stood in the shadow of some of the worst vandalism to houses of worship they have seen in their lifetime.

At St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church, red spray paint covers two statues; Christ on the cross and Mary, in a place where parishioners find solace and peace.

"That little bit of peace, whatever the cross means to them. In their life that's the hurt," said Msgr. Martin Kull, pastor.

The acts of vandalism, Eyewitness News has learned spreads out over eight different locations including four churches and a temple, a couple of residences, and a bank.

At the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, where the word "no" is sprayed, is where the cameras captured video of the suspect.

"I can't give you a motive at this time; we are still talking to the individual. We were able to identify him based on pictures, video taken at one of the scenes," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

"This is very, very offensive to so many and it really, I think symbolizes hatred," Rep. Michael Grimm said.

Despite the hatred they believe is behind these acts of desecration, the residents of Bay Ridge are coming together.

At the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, paint covers the front doors and walk.

"It was a horrific sign, yes. Especially being in red," said Chris Ellison, a church representative said.

They now turn to their source of strength.

"What we do as a community is what we do every day is that we pray. And we will pray for this man," said Mike Byrne, a parishioner.

"Maybe he will mend his ways. You know there is a lot of prayer going out for both him and for all in the community," said Steve Capper, a parishioner.

They now begin that process of healing.

St. Anselm's was previously targeted in May when two religious statues outside the church were defaced.