D.C. police are investigating vandalism in a religious garden in Northeast, in which a man wielding a hammer knocked off a statue’s hands and pummeled its face before leaving with the hands.
It happened in the Rosary Walk and Garden of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception late Sunday night.
Surveillance video of the attack on the Our Lady of Fatima statue shows a man knocking off the statue’s hands, stepping back, pausing to examine the effect, hopping back onto the statue’s pedestal to pound the statue’s face and then calmly walking away with the hands.
“Though we are deeply pained by this incident, we pray for the perpetrator through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Fatima,” Monsignor Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica said in a statement.
Video of the attack naming the vandal as a “person of interest” for destruction of property was posted by police on Wednesday — which happens to be the Catholic holy day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The feast day honors the church doctrine belief that Mary as born and lived without sin before becoming the mother of Jesus Christ.
“Today is a holy day for her — it’s the Immaculate Conception,” a visitor to the garden told NBC Washington. Asked about the vandalism the woman said, “It’s not your belief, don’t come. It’s my belief. I come.”
She believes the man who damaged the statue is hateful.
“They’re in a lot of pain,” she said. “It’s a soul in a lot of pain.”
Police are offering a reward of up to $1,000 for anyone who can identify the man responsible or who has knowledge of the incident. Tipsters can call police at 202-727-9099 or text the D.C. police’s text tip line to 50411.
WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.