The Los Angeles Police Department sought the public’s help Tuesday to identify the man who used a sledgehammer to deface a hand-painted mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe at a Van Nuys church.
Security cameras at St. Elisabeth Catholic Church on 14655 Kittridge St., near Van Nuys High School, captured the man approaching the mural with the sledgehammer at about 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday.
The man was seen smashing the tiles that form the virgin’s face before fleeing the scene.
The Rev. Vito Di Marzio, who was sleeping inside the church at the time of the incident, said he thought he heard loud knocking, CBS2 reported. He went back to sleep once the noise stopped and noticed the damage the next morning.
A felony vandalism report was made with the LAPD, according to Officer Mike Lopez of the LAPD Media Relations Division.
The hand-painted mural was installed at the church 35 years ago as a symbol of unity and each tile was sponsored by a parish family.
The tiles are difficult to replace, so the church has opted instead to replace the mural entirely, CBS2 reported. The church will also install a bulletproof barrier in front of the new mural to prevent further damage.
The suspect was wearing all black clothing with a yellow neck gaiter at the time of the vandalism and fled westbound on Kittridge Street on foot. Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call the LAPD’s Van Nuys station at 818-374-9500.
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