March 11—Ladyard—A man smashed the windows of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church with rocks and bricks early Saturday morning, entered through a window, and wrote hate messages on the floor and on a crucifix wall, the Liard Police Department said in a news release on Saturday.
Cleaners at Seabury Anglican Church also reported a broken window next to the main entrance, with a rock thrown into the church’s worship area, and police believe this is linked to the same suspect.
Our Lady of Lourdes said in a Facebook post on Saturday afternoon that they were cleaning the hall and “thankfully no one was injured. We stand together as we continue to condemn all forms of hatred and violence.” Let us pray.” For the individual, for unity and peace.”
Police said officers were dispatched to Our Lady of Lourdes at around 7:35 a.m. Saturday and CCTV footage from the church showed the suspect entering through a window around 1 a.m. and remaining in the meeting area until around 3:30 a.m. shown to have happened.
Police said it appeared the suspect threw bricks at the front door as he unsuccessfully tried to gain entry, and then broke windows around the building using rocks, bricks and religious decorations from outside the church. The man then entered through a window on the north side of the building.
Once in the meeting hall, officers found “hateful writing” in black paint on the floor and hate speech on the crucifixion wall. Police Captain Kenneth Creutz said that police “are not releasing the contents of the writings at this time because the ongoing investigation is not going to be compromised.”
Our Lady of Lourdes held Mass on Saturday at 5 p.m., and Rev. Brian Converse addressed the event with the congregation. They said they could still perform Mass because the suspect had not entered the sanctuary, and the altar had not been touched.
Converse, who commended the response of Liard and the state police, said at the beginning of the Mass that he was “troubled” by the graffiti and said that pictures of the Holy Father and the bishop had been defaced. He said 10 windows were broken and the kitchen door needed to be replaced.
Police said the CCTV footage showed the suspect attempting to enter a locked room with a sledgehammer before breaking the floor and wall.
Police said dispatch received a call about an incident in Seabury around 7:40 a.m., but it did not appear the suspect had gone to that church.
The New London Judicial District State’s Attorney’s Office, the FBI Civil Rights Unit and the Connecticut State Police Hate Crimes Unit are assisting Layard police detectives in the investigation.
Police described the suspect as a white man in his mid to late 20s with dark, slicked hair and a beard without a mustache, wearing jeans, dark work boots, and a dark winter jacket. He was carrying a light colored military style bag.
Police said anyone with information that could help identify the suspect can contact Detective Cadrow at (860) 464-6400 or email [email protected]And calls can be kept confidential.