LOS ANGELES - An investigation is underway after a suspect used a baseball bat to smash multiple stained-glass windows at an Armenian church in Van Nuys, police said.
Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were called to Saint Peter Armenian Apostolic Church located at the intersection of Louis Avenue and Sherman Way at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.
The incident is being investigated as vandalism but the church believes it should be considered a hate crime.
According to Fr. Shnork Demirjian, the incident occurred one day after the 30th anniversary of the independence of Armenia.
"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," Fr. Demirjian stated.
He says in total, eight stained-glass windows were blown out. A sign on the church of their neighboring property was also vandalized.
Fr. Demirjian is calling the attack premeditated and deliberate.
"I don’t have any doubt that this is a hate crime, and based off the video surveillance footage a premeditated and deliberate attack on the sanctuary and the a Christian faith. This is an Armenian church getting attacked, with mostly Armenian faithful worshippers. Armenians have become a target since the Artsakh/Karabagh war last September 2020," he added.
The suspect is described as a man in his 20’s dressed in black and masked, he was seen on camera with a black duffel bag and a baseball bat.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.
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