RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) --A 20-foot cross that was chopped down from a hill in Riverside is being called a hate crime by leaders of a Catholic retreat center.
Nearly a dozen crosses line the road up to the Divine Word Seminary and Retreat Center in Riverside, but most of them are only a few feet tall.
The largest cross out there was that 20-foot tall one. Irene Vasquez said she would often hike up to the giant cross to find comfort.
"It's just sad what somebody could come to do in our neighborhood," she said. "I just felt a relief of stress and I would just look over everything and just think about my parents and my son and just say, 'You're up here with me,'" she said.
Father Mel James said some people want the incident investigated as a hate crime. But Riverside police said it's not being investigated as that, but rather an act of vandalism.
"We need to show that there's evidence or intent that it was vandalized for the purposes of making a statement. Right now, there's no evidence at this time that that is the case," Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback said.
The only way to see the cross was to hike up to it, but after towering over part of the town since 1975, it's no longer visible below.
There is no place to put the cross back up. Anyone with information on the vandalism was asked to call the Riverside Police Department.