By Tim Harfmann
Gang symbols were spray painted on the walls of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Bayside, Queens.
Surveillance video captured an individual in a mask early Jan. 12, scrawling “M-S” on the front door of the parish’s Catholic academy, moments after the same vandal sprayed “MS-13” on both sides of the church’s main entrance.
Parishioners like Joseph Ruggiero were outraged.
“I’m beyond upset! I’m absolutely appalled,” he said. “This is an absolute disgrace!”
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident, but Sacred Heart’s pastor, Monsignor Thomas Machalski, doesn’t believe there’s malice against the church.
“I don’t think it was targeted, no, because apparently this has gone on throughout Bayside,” he explained.
At least two Bayside homes and a local pharmacy were also spray painted.
The violent international gang MS-13 is strengthening its presence, particularly in neighboring Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Bayside residents think it could have been a prank.
“I don’t think it was people from that gang,” said Thomas Cronin, another parishioner at the church. “I think it was just somebody who scrawled those things up on the wall.”
“It’s a very quiet, suburban area,” added Ruggiero.
Msgr. Machalski had this message for the vandal: “You need to find more constructive things to do with your energy, because the energy you wasted on something like this could be put to so much better use.”
He also said the parish plans on installing additional surveillance cameras around the church. There is no word yet on how much it will cost to remove the taggings from the building.