BALTIMORE -- Baltimore police are investigating a hate crime after a man reportedly tried to rip off a pride flag from a church in Federal Hill.
Officers were called to the church around 4 p.m. on Monday to investigate a destruction-of-property report.
Someone saw an unknown man climbing the outside wall of the church, according to authorities. That man was hanging from the pride flag in an attempt to rip it from the wall.
A picture shows the flag torn down the middle, still hanging from the church.
The remains of a ripped LGBT flag still hang outside of the Light Street Presbyterian Church in Federal Hill on Tuesday night.
A witness to the crime told WJZ that the person responsible used the flag to climb to the top and then pulled out a knife to slice it in half before hopping into a getaway car.
"Halfway down the block, I see a guy on a potted plant and he starts climbing up the flag," neighborhood resident and witness Ben Luster told WJZ.
The man made multiple attempts to climb and eventually reached the top of the flag. That's when he pulled out a knife and ripped in half, Luster said.
"I asked him what he was doing and he mentioned the flag in front of the church is an abomination," he said. "So, he started ripping it."
The man responded by saying "he was doing the lord's work," Luster said.
Pastor Tim Hughes Williams said the 10-foot flag was a symbol of inclusion.
"I think it's ironic that people who are coming from a position of faith are acting with so much hostility and hatred," he said.
Williams said the church—with the support of the community—is raising funds to buy a new flag. The church has been a safe space for LGTBQ members for nearly three decades.
"To me, the violence against the flag . . . reinforces how important it is that there are places like this," he said.
Police on Tuesday said they did not yet have a suspect.
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