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Cops: Sanitation Worker Tried To Outrun Officers On Street Sweeper After Vandalizing Church

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A city Department of Sanitation worker has been accused of vandalizing a church.

Wearing his green sanitation department uniform, Roman Protas was allegedly seen on surveillance video throwing trash, cookies, bottles and oranges at a statue of Jesus outside of St. Frances de Chantal Catholic Church in Borough Park, Brooklyn just before 9 a.m. Thursday.

"He started throwing stuff all over the place, almost hit me with a bottle," a witness named Novi, who didn't want to reveal her last name told CBS2's Brian Conybeare.

Novi was on her way to work at the time.

"He was throwing bottles, he was throwing stones, he was throwing whatever he could find over there cursing and yelling. He got back in the truck, he took out a bottle and started drinking," she said.

The statue wasn't damaged, but the bizarre rampage wasn't over.

Protas came back to the church on 58th Street about 40 minutes later. This time he allegedly got out of the street sweeper and stormed over to a statue of Pope John Paul II, where he ripped up and threw flowers.

"I think this guy was on something. For somebody to do this they can't be in their right mind," parishioner John Maffeo said.

About three hours later police spotted Protas driving the street sweeper radically on East 9th Street and Avenue L, and then authorities said he tried to out run them.

Police said Protas ran a red light, but didn't get far. When he was arrested police found un-prescribed  anti-psychotic medication in the street sweeper, and he shouted, "I hate Roman Catholics" according to a source.

Protas is facing multiple criminal charges and has been suspended after 12 years with Sanitation.

"He should definitely lose his job, Should be fired. He was such a danger to everyone in there," Novi said.


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