Police seek public assistance in identifying suspects in string of church vandalism incidents
After weeks of investigating a series of church vandalisms that have left many in our city feeling unsafe, including a church fire that is believed to have been deliberately set, police are now turning to the public for help in hopes of identifying several suspects believed to be involved.
We acknowledge the trauma, hurt and anger being felt by many in the community over the recent news of graves being found at former residential schools. While the vast majority of people have been peacefully expressing their responses to these events, the illegal vandalism and burning of churches across the country is dangerous and wrong.
We remain committed to working towards peaceful reconciliation with the Indigenous community while still performing our duties of upholding the law and protecting public safety.
Police began investigating after orange and red graffiti was seen on the exterior of 11 churches during the night of Wednesday, June 30, or in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 1, 2021. In one case, a window was smashed so paint could also be thrown inside. Handprints, the number “215” and other markings suggest the vandalism was in response to the graves recently found at former residential schools.
A few days later, on Sunday, July 4, 2021, at approximately 7:20 p.m., a suspicious fire occurred at a church in Forest Heights prompting the Calgary Police Service Arson Unit to work closely with the Calgary Fire Department to investigate.
There have been no other reported incidents of church vandalism.
Today we are releasing several photos of individuals believed to be connected to some of these incidents in hopes of identifying them with the public’s help.
Suspect photos are available on the City of Calgary’s Newsroom.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church, Grace Presbyterian Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral:
At least three suspects are believed to have targeted St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church located at 819 13 Ave. S.W., Grace Presbyterian Church located at 1009 15 Ave. S.W. and St. Mary’s Cathedral at 219 18 Ave. S.W. No suspect descriptions are available.
[Photos of one suspect have been removed following his arrest]
St. Bonaventure Catholic Church:
On Thursday, July 1, 2021, at approximately 2:40 a.m., an unknown woman was captured on CCTV using orange and red paint to apply graffiti to the St. Bonaventure Catholic Church located at 1600 Acadia Dr. S.E. She was wearing a black hooded sweater with the hood up, dark pants and a dark mask.
Holy Trinity Church:
On Thursday, July 1, 2021, at approximately 1:45 a.m., multiple unknown suspects were captured smearing orange paint in the shape of handprints on the doors of Holy Trinity Church located at 1525 45 St. S.E. and splashing the paint on the sidewalks. The following photos are of the same suspect, who is believed to be female. No further suspect description is available.
Officers are still conducting proactive patrols around specific churches that will continue for the foreseeable future.
Anyone with information about any of the pictured suspects or about any of the 11 vandalized churches, is asked to call us at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers through any of the following methods:
APP: “P3 Tips”
If you are struggling to process the emotions around any of the recent events, it is perfectly normal to need some help and support. Here are some agencies who can help:
- CPS Victim Assistance Support Team: 403-428-8398
- Distress Centre Calgary (24/7): 403-266-HELP (4357)
- Indian Residential School Crisis Line (24/7): 1-866-925-4419
- Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society (Crisis Line): 403-531-1976
- 211 Alberta: Dial 211
Case: #21248761, #21248923 and #21249087/4616