Police Investigate Church Vandalism, Priest Says Man With History of Disturbances Smashes Window

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, CHURCH VANDALIZED, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Caught on camera, but not yet caught by police. St. Rita’s Pastor Father Jose Da Silva said on the evening of Friday, Feb. 9, he heard a noise and came to his window to find it broken.

“I asked him what he was doing and he looked at me and he left,” Father Da Silva said. “He stopped by the front of the church for a few minutes then I came down, and I went to the chapel everybody was outside and we saw the window was broken.”

Father Da Silva said he knows the man who did it, not by name, but sees him regularly in the neighborhood.

The Queens priest claims over the years the man has caused disturbances inside the Long Island City church, coming in drunk and with alcohol.

Father Da Silva has been forced to ask him to leave.

“I saw him many, many times walking in the neighborhood, and I saw him in the chapel a few weeks before that when he was in the chapel, he was drunk, he was sleeping,” Father Da Silva said. “Sometimes he was drinking beer in the chapel also and one day I heard a noise, and he opened the door with his foot, and he was screaming at me, but he’s always around, always around that guy.”

The windows that were shattered are part of the church’s original stained glass and nearly 60 years old. Father Da Silva believes they weren’t his intended target.

Before causing damage outside the man entered the chapel where a charismatic prayer group was meeting, he left after only a few seconds.

“We don’t feel safe anymore,” “I believe he was trying to break the statue of the Blessed Mother. I think his intention was also to attack people and damage the chapel.”

Fatherr Da Silva said he fears for his own safety and the safety of his nearly 1,000 parishioners.

“I worry about safety during masses because we have a huge congregation and this area is not safe, it’s not safe for anybody,” Father Da Silva said. “He has mental issues, I’m very sure, but I think something must be done, something more serious. We have a system, cameras and everything but sometimes it feels like nothing is safe.”

Father Da Silva has filed a police report and detectives from the 114th precinct are investigating the incident.
He has not yet heard back from the insurance company but estimates the cost of damage is more than $10,000.

If you or anyone you know recognizes the man from that footage, please call crimestoppers at 1-800- 577- TIPS.