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Graffiti on 2 LA churches may be hate crime

January 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators are looking at graffiti spray-painted at two churches. One is in Rolling Hills Estates, the other in Rowland Heights. Both are being investigated as possible hate crimes.

L.A. County Sheriff's detectives are on the hunt for a suspect or suspects who spray-painted satanic symbols and graffiti laced with hateful messages about religion on the building that is home to the Jehovah's Witness Rowland Heights Congregation. Members of the church on the 19000 block of Kilian Avenue believe the vandalism happened some time between late Friday night and very early Saturday morning.

"It was pretty bad. It was graffiti all over the walls, and they tore down the signs, the schedule of meetings," said church member Joe Aragon. "We were concerned that because we just finished remodeling, and we put a lot of effort and work into it, trying to make the building look nice."

"We are in critical times. Hard to deal with. That's in the Book of Timothy. And it's really a hateful thing what they're doing to my father's house," said church member Roy Espinoza. "But hopefully the person that did it will come forward and he can learn really what the scriptures have to say, and who knows? He might become my brother down the line."

"We are investigating it as a hate crime due to the terminology used," said L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Randy Lascurain.

A second church was vandalized over the weekend. Authorities say similar hate-based messages were scrawled on the Rolling Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church on the 28000 block of Highridge Road in Rolling Hills Estates.

"The vandalism was spray-painting on an exterior wall, and some of the markings included pentagrams as well as racial epithets directed towards Chinese members of that congregation. We investigate things like that, especially crimes related to any sort of race or religion as a hate crime," said L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Thomas.

If you have information related to either of the incidents, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).