Vandal destroys statues outside Queens church, NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force investigating

FOREST HILLS, Queens (WABC) -- The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a possible bias incident after two religious statues were destroyed outside of a church in Queens Saturday.

The act of vandalism was captured on security camera video around 3:30 a.m. outside of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church on Kessel Street in Forest Hills.

In the video, the vandal, who appears to be a woman in her 20s, can be seen picking up the statues and repeatedly smashing them on the ground.

A retired pastor was in the rectory, heard the commotion, and called 911.

"It appears the same woman came and toppled both statues, but did not destroy them. So the custodian the next day, he placed them upright and screwed them into the base, but she was able- she was strong enough to push it off. She appeared to have some kind of a hammer or something and she was stomping on the statues hammering them and just completely demolished them as you can see," Rev. Frank Schwarz said.

The Diocese of Brooklyn said the statues depicting the Blessed Mother and St. Therese the Little Flower had stood outside the church since 1937.

According to the Diocese, it was the second time these same statues were defaced just this week.

On Wednesday someone fitting the same description had pushed the statues over, but in that instance, they didn't break.

It is being investigated as a possible bias incident.

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