Another statue of St. Junipero Serra vandalized

Another statue of St. Junipero Serra vandalized

Suspect tried first to sever saint’s head with electric saw, then threw red paint on the sculpture at Mission San Gabriel, latest in a series of crimes across California targeting missionary

A metal statue of St. Junipero Serra was vandalized early Friday morning at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, mimicking a similar incident at another mission less than two months ago.

Pastor Manuel “Tony” Diaz said at 1:15 a.m., a man jumped on the pedestal of the statue and tried to decapitate it with an electric saw. Surveillance video at the mission caught the man on tape.

“The right side of the (statute’s) neck has a 2-inch gash in it,” Diaz said.

A man tried to decapitate St. Junipero Serra statue at Mission San Gabriel at 1:15 a.m. Friday morning. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The man stopped before he could completely saw through the neck. He then threw red paint on it, said Diaz, adding the incident doesn’t surprise him.

“The vandalism of Junipero Serra’s statues at our missions began in the northern part of the state ever since Pope Francis deified him,” Diaz said.

The statue is 15 years old and stands in front of the mission.  It sustained damages of about $2,000 as a result of the vandal, San Gabriel police Lt. Riki Nakamura said.

“Surveillance revealed an unknown suspect, possibly a male, approximately 5 feet 7 inches, 130 to 140 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants (and) dark colored gloves climbed on the statue and began to saw the neck area using what appeared to be an electric reciprocating saw,” San Gabriel police Detective Steve Gaona said in a written statement. “With no success, the suspect then poured red colored paint on the chest area of the statue.”

A similar crime was reported in September, when an vandal or vandals reportedly decapitated a statue of Serra and doused it with red paint at the Old Mission Santa Barbara, according to the L.A. Times.

No vandalism has been reported at Mission San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, where a statue of St. Junipero Serra with a native boy stands in a garden area, said executive director Mechelle Lawrence-Adams. The mission grounds are enclosed by a wall around its property.

Friday morning’s incident was the second significant incident of vandalism reported at the San Gabriel Mission since January of 2015, when Pope Francis first announced intentions to promote Serra’s sainthood, officials said. Serra was canonized Sept. 23, 2015.

Full story at Pasadena-Star News.

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