DENVER (CBS4) – Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the vandalism at St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church in Denver that left a statue nearly destroyed.
According to a Denver Police tweet, the 16-year-old and 17-year-old were arrested on Thursday afternoon. The teens face several charges including four felonies: criminal mischief, burglary, possession of an incendiary device and biased motivated crime.
The teens were first caught asking a third boy to join them. It was after the surveillance video of the vandalism was released that the mother of that boy called police.
“She’s a really good neighbor. She knew these boys and she heard what they were going to do as they came up the street and called police,” said St. Francis of Assisi Father John Kalabokes.
The church on South Jersey Street has been hit by vandals twice before it was vandalized on Sunday night. Detectives examined surveillance video from multiple cameras that are pointed right at the statue that was targeted.
Two vandals took their time — nearly 10 minutes — repeatedly beating on the statue of St. Francis, and celebrating their biggest hits as they defaced the idol piece by piece.
The suspects almost completely removed the statue’s head, breaking St. Francis’ outstretched hand and knocking iron birds off the railing that had been welded on. The same statue was desecrated twice before in 2010 and 2012, and Father Kalabokes believes it is the same people this time.
“I think the last one was because it was the same modus oporendi,” said Kalabokes.
After attacking the statue the two suspects broke in through a back window, breaking a plaque in the church’s kitchen. Investigators also found what might have been a make-shift incendiary device on a grill.
The church said the total damage is a few thousand dollars. They plan to repair the statue.
The teens may have to pay restitution for the damages. Kalabokes hopes he gets the chance to speak with them to know why they did it in the first place.
“I would very much like to see them get their lives straightened out then ending up with a career full of jail and arrests and all this kind of stuff,” said Kalabokes.
Police have not identified the suspects because they are juveniles.