WASHINGTON — A Catholic School in Northeast D.C. is raising money to repair the damage caused by someone who broke several concrete windowsills and knocked down a statue of the school's namesake weeks before the first day of school.
St. Anthony Catholic School said three benches were also pulled out of the ground and damaged.
According to a police report, an unknown suspect destroyed the school's property from the late hours of Wednesday night to the early morning on Thursday, Aug. 11, and took the head off the statute.
Days after the destruction was discovered, police arrested 32-year-old Demitrius Hansford in connection to the vandalism. Hansford faces charges of theft, destruction of property and burglary.
St. Anthony Catholic Principal Mike Thomasian discovered the damage on Friday. He said he was disappointed to see someone would target the school's patron saint.
“Hate crimes can happen in any house of worship and Catholics are being attacked right now," he said. "And I didn't know how strongly I felt about that until it hit home.”
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime. It is at least the third religious hate crime investigated by police this year.
Unfortunately, St. Anthony was also targeted again over the weekend, according to Thomasian.
He said a custodian discovered the principal's office had been ransacked and that two religious statues had been destroyed. Thomasian added that the thief also took $1,400 from the school that children had fundraised for a charity.
“[The children] know that the world is full of good people and good people who love them, the people who take care of each other," he said. "But, unfortunately, there are people who are hurt and who are broken and sometimes make poor choices. And, this was a poor choice. This was a mean choice.”
A GoFundMe was created to help raise funds to replace the statue, broken benches and repair the damage done to the school. The school posted that any additional funds will improve the safety around the school and beautify the outdoor space. As of Monday evening, more than $21,000 was raised in donations.
The school also happens to be celebrating its 100th year anniversary in the Brookland neighborhood.
"We are very hurt by the actions of one or few, but we plan to fix all the damage before the first day of school," the catholic school posted on their GoFundMe page.
A police report for Monday's incident also said that police recovered clothing from the scene that they consider to be evidence in the case. St. Anthony estimated the financial damages from both incidents to total more than $25,000.
The first day of classes for St. Anthony Catholic School is Aug. 28.
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