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    Tuesday, April 23, 2024

    Police seek suspect in burglary of Ledyard church

    Ledyard police are seeking a suspect, shown here in still images from CCTV footage, in connection with the burglary of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Gales Ferry on Saturday, March 11, 2023. (Courtesy of Ledyard Police Department)
    Ledyard police are seeking a suspect, shown here in still images from CCTV footage, in connection with the burglary of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Gales Ferry on Saturday, March 11, 2023. (Courtesy of Ledyard Police Department)

    Ledyard ― A man broke the windows of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church with rocks and bricks early Saturday morning, entered through a window, and wrote hateful messages on the floor and the wall bearing a crucifix, the Ledyard Police Department said Saturday in a news release.

    Cleaning personnel at Seabury Anglican Church also reported a broken window next to the main entrance, with a rock thrown into the worship area of the church, and police believe this is connected to the same suspect.

    Our Lady of Lourdes said in a Facebook post early Saturday afternoon they were in the process of cleaning up the hall and “are thankful no one was injured. We stand together as we continue to condemn hate and violence in all its forms. Let us pray for the person, for unity and peace.”

    Police said officers were dispatched to Our Lady of Lourdes around 7:35 a.m. Saturday, and CCTV footage from the church showed the suspect entering through a window around 1 a.m. and staying in the meeting area until about 3:30 a.m.

    Police said it appeared the suspect threw bricks at the front door as he unsuccessfully tried to gain entry, and then broke windows around the building using rocks, bricks and religious decorations from outside the church. The man then entered through a window on the north side of the building.

    Once in the meeting hall, officers found “hateful writings” in black paint on the floor and hateful speech on the wall with the crucifix. Police Capt. Kenneth Creutz said police “are not releasing the contents of the writings at this time as to not compromise the ongoing investigation.”

    Our Lady of Lourdes held 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday, and Rev. Brian Converse addressed the incident with the congregation. He said they were able to still have Mass because the suspect didn’t get into the sanctuary, and the altar was untouched.

    Converse, who commended Ledyard and state police for their response, said at the beginning of Mass that he was “disturbed” by the graffiti and added that pictures of the Holy Father and the bishop were defaced. He said 10 windows were broken, and the kitchen door will need to be replaced.

    Police said CCTV footage showed the suspect attempting to get into locked rooms with a crowbar before he vandalized the floor and wall.

    Dispatch got a call around 7:40 a.m. about the incident at Seabury, police said, but it did not appear the suspect got into that church.

    The New London Judicial District State’s Attorneys Office, FBI Civil Rights Unit and Connecticut State Police Hate Crimes Unit are assisting Ledyard police detectives in the investigation.

    Police described the suspect as a white man in his mid-to-late 20s with dark, thinning hair and a beard with no mustache, wearing jeans, dark-colored work boots, and a dark-colored winter jacket. He was carrying a light-colored military-style backpack.

    Police said anyone with information that would help identify the suspect can contact Detective Cadro at (860) 464-6400 or email det.cadro@ledyardct.org, and calls can be kept confidential.

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