Police have arrested a suspect in the defacements of several religious institutions, including a statue of the virgin Mary and the door of a synagogue.
Chris Papadimitropoulos, 55, was arrested yesterday after allegedly being caught on surveillance cameras spray-painting the Virgin red outside of Bay Ridge's St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church. “We were able to identify him based on pictures and video taken at one of the scenes, and police officers identified him as wearing the same clothing — the clothing was worn in the video,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Papadimitropoulos will be charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime, 12 counts of criminal mischief and 12 counts of making graffiti.
A rash of attacks on religious institutions in Bay Ridge was discovered early Tuesday morning.
Four churches and a prep school were splattered with red paint, according to Police Officer Sophia Tassy-Mason, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department. Tassy-Mason said the vandalism was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. on July 30. “These incidents are being investigated as hate crimes,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
“We have an individual in custody. We are questioning him,” Police Officer Vito Viola of the 68th Precinct said. “We believe he is the same individual on a security video and in some still shots we have,” the officer said.
The vandal splattered red paint on two statues, of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, outside Saint Anselm Catholic Church at 356 82nd St., spray painted the word “no” at the front entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, at 415 81st St., and on the front wall at a Lutheran church on Ridge Boulevard. Curiously, the word “on” was found spray painted near the entrance of Bay Ridge Prep, a private school at 7420 Fourth Ave.
The fifth site, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, at 8401 Ridge Boulevard, suffered significant damage, according to Christopher Elison, a church member. Red paint was discovered on six of the church’s doors, on a flagpole on the front lawn, and on the cornerstone of the church, he said. “It was pretty bizarre,” he said at the press conference. “It was a horrible sign,” he added.
The paint-splattered statues outside St. Anselm Church were discovered early in the morning. “There were parishioners out here on the sidewalk crying,” said Golden, who was at the scene at 7:30 a.m. with his deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione. Quaglione a member of the St. Anselm Parish Pastoral Planning Council condemned the vandalism as “an act of hatred that will not be tolerated.”
Golden and Quaglione had put up a $2,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of a suspect. Golden said it would cost thousands of dollars to repair the two statues. "You have to send them out to be repaired. It isn't a matter of just wiping off the paint," he said.
The Rev. Martin Kull, a parish priest at St. Anselm, said the attack would not deter the work of the church. “This is a community of love. For this one act of hatred, I have seen thousands of acts of kindness,” he said.
For more on the story see Brooklyn Daily Eagle.