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After Failing To Behead Figure, Culprit Defaces Father Serra Statue In San Gabriel With Paint

SAN GABRIEL (CBSLA) — The figure of a revered Roman Catholic saint was vandalized in San Gabriel Friday, and police say they have the perpetrator on tape.

The bronze statue of Father Junipero Serra that stands outside the San Gabriel Mission Church was found with red paint dripping down the friar's chest Friday morning.

This was apparently "plan b" for the culprit, who initially attempted to cut off the statue's head with what police believe to be a reciprocating saw, based on surveillance video at the church.

The suspect is described as 5-foot-7, 130 to 140 pounds, who was wearing a black hoodie and black pants at the time of the crime.

This is the latest act of vandalism against a likeness of the Spanish priest canonized by the Pope in 2015 amid controversy.

Serra, who founded nine of the original 21 Roman Catholic missions in California, is seen by many as a murderer who used and treated the indigenous peoples in the state inhumanely, as the Roman Catholic church proselytized across the American West centuries ago.

Father Manuel Antonio "Tony" Diaz, the pastor at the San Gabriel Mission, told CBS2 News, simply, "It happens," calling it a misinterpretation of history.

Father Tony said it will cost about $3000 to repair the bronze statue.

In August, the statue of Serra in Mission Hills was similarly vandalized with red paint, with the word "murder" spelled out in white down the father's robe.

Another figure was beheaded in Santa Barbara in September.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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