July 19, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two statues that have stood outside a Catholic Church in Forest Hills since it opened in the 1930s were toppled and smashed early Saturday in what police are investigating as a hate crime.
A woman knocked down the statues that stood outside Our Lady of Mercy parish, located at 70-1 Kessel St., at around 3:30 a.m., police and the Diocese of Brooklyn said.
She then dragged the statues — one of the Blessed Mother and one of St. Therese the Little Flower — into the street and repeatedly smashed them.
The statues — which were more than 80 years old — were left in pieces.
“Both of these statues have stood in front of the church since it was built [in 1937],” Father Frank Schwarz, the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, said. “It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days.”
Parish leaders have since put signs on the broken pieces that ask passersby to “Please pray for the person who did this.”
Schwarz said he is praying for greater religious tolerance in the country.
“I pray that this recent rash of attacks against Catholic churches and all houses of worship will end, and religious tolerance may become more a part of our society.”
The vandalism was caught on video and police believe the suspect is a woman in her mid-20s with a medium complexion and average build. She was wearing all black clothing in the video.
The Diocese of Brooklyn (which also covers Queens) said the two statues were toppled over earlier in the week, on Wednesday evening. The statues were not damaged on that occasion, but police believe the female suspect wanted for Saturday’s incident was responsible for the vandalism on Wednesday.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.