Gangs suspected in Haughville church vandalism

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Gang members have targeted a Haughville church, leaving its school vandalized with graffiti. The school at St. Anthony's Catholic Church is brand new, but the graffiti problem is an ongoing issue for the neighborhood.

Church members believe gang members walked between the church and school, which are two separate buildings, and left their calling card with spray paint.

White paint covers the new red bricks at St. Anthony's Catholic Church school in Haughville. Gangs tagged the side of the school and the back of the building.

Parishioner Betty Koehl was shocked "that they would show so much disrespect for a church." At home, Koehl keeps out strangers by keeping her gates locked. That's because she's a victim of graffiti too. Gang members recently tagged her garage not far from the church.

"There have been several along here that have been targeted with graffiti. So I just painted over it. It was ugly," she said.

Eyewitness News found graffiti-damaged property after property left by the same vandals throughout the St. Anthony Church area in Haughville.

Tagging isn't the only problem for church members. Scrap metal thieves stole the church down spouts and recently vandalized their air conditioning units.

St. Anthony has worked in this neighborhood to improve things for years, including holding an annual festival.

"They have a program where they are restoring homes in the neighborhood and helping people become homeowners," she said.

Now, as assembly crews put up rides for the St Anthony Festival, the church is working to remove the graffiti left by vandals.

Church leaders say removing the graffiti will very expensive and they hope it doesn't do more harm to the new brickwork at the school.