St. Anthony's Catholic School was supposed to be celebrating its 100-year anniversary when it was attacked twice in one weekend.
A suspect has been arrested in connection with two separate instances of vandalism at a D.C. Catholic school. The incidents, which saw statues broken and a sum of money stolen from the school, occurred on Thursday, August 11, and again on Monday, August 15. Damages were estimated in the thousands of dollars.
According to ABC7 News, Demitrius Hansford, 32, of Northeast D.C. was arrested and charged with theft and destruction of property. The authorities are investigating the offenses as hate crimes, but the suspect’s motives have yet to be revealed.
OSV reports that on August 11, school officials discovered that a statue of St. Anthony, the school’s namesake, had been toppled and its head had been removed. The whereabouts of the statue’s head are still unknown. More destruction was noticed in the school playground, where benches were torn up and a nearby windowsill was damaged.
On the following Monday, it was found that vandals had broken into the school. St. Anthony’s principal Michael Thomasian explained that they pilfered his office, stealing a camera, flash drives from his desk, and $1,400 in school funds. They then turned their ire towards statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, which were both destroyed. The thieves also stole some Advent candles.
Thomasian told OSV that he believes the crimes were motivated by anti-Catholic sentiment:
“When they tore up benches out front, that was vandalism,” said principal Michael Thomasian. “When they destroy statues of St. Anthony and the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph — that is (an attack on something) explicitly Catholic, and that is an act of hate.”
The crime would be hard on any K-8 school, but for St. Anthony’s it was particularly disheartening, because the school is supposed to be celebrating its 100-year anniversary. The school has stated that the vandalism will in no way affect the beginning of the fall semester in the coming weeks.
A GoFundMe page has been launched in order to help St. Anthony’s pay for the damages, estimated at $25,000. As of the writing of this article, the fund has already raised over $33,000 for the school.