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Man hops fence, destroys statues outside SoHo church

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Rob Nelson has the details on the search for a church vandalism suspect.

There is shock and sadness for parishioners of one church in Lower Manhattan after several statues were vandalized outside the building.

The whole thing was caught on surveillance camera, which authorities are hoping will lead to an arrest.

The video shows what a strange and inexplicable crime this was, with a man tossing around religious statues. He damaged all four of them, leaving the Virgin Mary with half of her right hand now missing.

It happened just before 1 a.m. Monday, with the suspect casually strolling up to st. Anthony of Padua Church on Sullivan Street in SoHo, hopping the fence and beginning his bizarre rampage.

"A very angry man, that's all I can say," Pastor Mario Julian said. "I don't know what else I can say. I can't get in his mind. Very angry, and he saw the statues there and decided, this is what I'm going to do."

The video captured the man tossing three cement status around like they're nothing, hurling each one toward the Virgin Mary in the Garden outside the church.

"I think we're talking about $8,000 to $10,000 in damage," Julian said. "He broke many parts of those statues that may not be able to be replaced."

Wednesday marked Julian's one-year anniversary at the church, and it is certainly not how he expected to mark the occasion.

"I said to the policemen, it's going to take six of you to get this guy," he said. "He looked big to me."

To make matters worse, this isn't the first time the church has been targeted. A few years ago, vandals damaged the church's nativity scene around Christmas time.

"The baby Jesus has been stolen, statues have been stolen in the past," Julian said. "Some of that's been returned. This is the most violent it's ever been."

The suspect remains on the loose. Anyone with information is urged to call authorities.
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