LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Lake Balboa is cleaning up Friday after a vandal broke eight of its sanctuary's stained glass windows.
"A young man in his 20's came well-organized and you can tell it's premeditated," said Father Shnork Demirjian of St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Van Nuys.
The church's security video shows a man walking up with a bag, a bat and a purpose. He takes a moment to put on his mask and his hat again. Then he begins to smash the stained-glass windows along one side of the church.
"Initially, you feel surprised and then you realize what's happening, the devastation and the damage. We have to control our sentiments, but you still feel angry," the church priest said.
After more than 20 strikes to the church's windows alongside Sherman Way, the suspect shattered a total of eight windows on Thursday at around 1:30 a.m. Shards of glass were left all over the floor and the window sills of the sanctuary. At least two protective outer windows were also shattered and destroyed. St. Peter's officials say the vandal also damaged the sign of a neighboring church on the property.
Father Demirjian called the police who are no investigating the incident as vandalism, but Demirjian believes it's a hate crime.
"By coincidence on September 21, it was the celebration of the independence of Armenia. I really believe that it's against Armenians who happen to be Christians," Demirjian said.
This isn't the first time a Van Nuys church has been the target of vandals. In April, someone defaced a Virgin of Guadalupe mural at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church with a sledgehammer.
"It's against all people of all nations of religion because disrespect to one religion is a disrespect to other religions," said Demirjian.
As for the suspect that damaged the priceless windows at St. Peter Armenian Church, the priest hopes his hate will be changed into love.
"Forgiveness, you're going to receive forgiveness, but you have to pay for what you have," he said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said has stepped up patrols around the church and in the area and that anyone with information about the incident should contact LAPD's West Valley Station.
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