A South Korean national is in custody after Royal Oak police said he smashed glass doors to enter a church and destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
A passerby near St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 730 S. Lafayette, called Royal Oak Police around 9 p.m. Tuesday to report a man vandalizing the church.
Sector officers arrived, saw a man in the hallway and ordered him out.
“The suspect dragged the headless statue of the Virgin Mary out,” Royal Oak Police Lt. Albert Carter said Thursday. “He said only one word – ‘justice’ – and hasn’t spoken to any officers or detectives since then.”
The 5ft 6in statue was made in 1930. Police say the man damaged the statue when he knocked it over inside the church.
“The suspect has videos on his cell phone about the Antichrist,” Carter said.
Police said the statue was worth around $5,000 and the suspect also caused $1,400 in damage to church door windows and a searchlight.
Police are seeking felony charges of breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property over $1,000 against the 30-year-old suspect.
Oakland County prosecutors are investigating the case.
The man appears to be suffering from mental illness and police said they know little about him at this stage.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials requested a copy of the complaint against the suspect.
“The only ID he has is a New York City ID,” Carter said. “He had an earlier incident in New York with a church, but was not prosecuted.”
Police said they would not release the man’s name until he was charged.
A priest at the church, Fr. Paul Snyder, informed parishioners of the incident in an emailed letter late Wednesday afternoon.
“The incident was recorded on our security cameras and the footage has been released to police,” the letter said.
Although saddened by the incident, Snyder said he was grateful no one was injured and for the quick response from police.
“There was no damage to the interior of the main body of the church,” he said in the letter. “It could have been much worse… Please keep the person who did this in your prayers.