Police: Man broke down door of Santa Ana church because wife left him, wanted to pray

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Santa Ana police have arrested a man accused of vandalizing a church with a massive metal pipe.

Investigators say Joel Fabian Sandoval, 34, of Santa Ana broke into the church because his wife had left him and he wanted to pray. He saw the church was closed, but didn't think that was right, so he went ahead and opened it, police say.

Surveillance video from the morning of July 2 shows a man swinging a pipe at the doors of Johnson Chapel AME Church on Bristol Street near 1st Street.

The suspect repeatedly hit the front doors until he created a hole. He then shoved the pipe through that hole to jam the doors open and walk inside.

Police say he continued to damage a set of secondary doors within the church, and he tried to cause additional damage to the door frame.

"I was just overwhelmed with shock at the damage to our facility here," said Pastor Delman Howard.

Before getting into the church, police say the man tried to break into a utility shed, and damaged an exterior door on the side of the church.

The damaged was estimated at more than $2,000.

Wednesday evening, police said they had found and arrested the suspect, identified as Sandoval.

He's expected to face charges of felony vandalism and vandalism to a place of worship. Police say Sandoval confessed to the crime when interviewed by detectives.

"We forgive him," Howard said. "We pray that something will be done to help him."

Police say other officers had actually arrested Sandoval on the same day as the church incident for an unrelated vandalism charge at a home in the 1500 block of West McFadden Avenue after he randomly damaged a garage door.
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