Feb 27, 2011 1:46 AM by Chris Welty

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church Vandalized

An arrest in a recent hate crime at a Lafayette church.

Now there was vandalism Saturday morning at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, but two weeks ago---just half-a-mile away at Saint John's Baptist Church, similar vandalism. Derogatory words were painted on the outside of the church and threatening notes were also left behind. Saturday night, police arrested 33 year old Brian Toriano in connection with that vandalism, and he's facing charges of hate crimes and criminal damage to property in connection with the incident.

Another similar incident Saturday morning again over at Immaculate Heart of Mary and Brian Toriano will also be questioned in the case, which as KATC'S Chris Welty reports--has shaken the congregation.

Whoever painted it seemed to question whether or not it was a hate crime, but to the parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and School in Lafayette, the derogatory messages some so bad, we can't even show you. The "N-word" and several other racially charged words speak for themselves.

"This just hearts the heart it brings tears to your eyes."

Betty Brown a member of the church since 1945 questions why vandals would target area churches. "What good is it doing you to desecrate something like this?"

Questions that are coming up with no answers for not only church goers, but father thomas james who says the acts are unnecessary.

"If you are angry about a particular person or incident, eyeball to eyeball, come do not hide behind derogatory language."

Some of the same derogatory messages were painted on St. James Baptist Church just blocks away from here, and parishioners are shocked the same crime would happen here just two weeks down the road.

"2011 that this would hurts." "You never think that it would happen here and that close to home."

Corporal Paul Mouton it's unclear if the two cases are related---and so far no arrests.

"The F.B.I. is working close with us and not only with their manpower, but also their resources and trying to identify the person responsible for these two incidents."

"If it's a race issue it's time for everybody to sit down and to talk...let's talk about this."
"Whatever the reason they did it is, may god bless them."

Chris Welty



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