2 teenagers accused in Redlands church vandalism – San Bernardino Sun

Two teenagers from Redlands were arrested Thursday night, July 7, on suspicion of a hate crime, burglary and vandalism after a group of people painted profanities, racial slurs, an upside down cross and other symbols on the windows, walls and other parts of a church.

The vandals used paint stolen from the church, said Rev. Kevin Matthews, senior minister at The ACTS Center. Additional suspects could be arrested for the crimes at the church located at 75 Tennessee St., police said.

Cameras located at the church showed seven people at the scene, according to Redlands police Commander Stephen Crane. He said an officer recognized one suspect, a 16-year-old boy, who appeared in the footage.

Police arrested the boy and a 16-year-old girl that night.

The vandalism, which was recorded by church cameras, happened around 5 p.m. on Thursday, Matthews said.

A group vandalized The ACTS Center at 75 Tennessee St. in Redlands by painting profanities, racial slurs, upside crosses and other symbols on the church building on July 7, 2022. Police arrested two Redlands teens the same night on suspicion of a hate crime, burglary and vandalism. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Matthews)

In the video, he said, a woman who looks to be about 19 or 20 seemed to be telling a group what to do.

“We could see them painting graffiti on windows and doors,” Matthews said.

The back and front of the church were covered in about 25 gallons of paint, Matthews said. The vandals also hit the front and back of the children’s area and emptied cans of paint along the walkways outside the church, he added,

There also was paint and graffiti on the roof.

Matthews believes the vandals’ goal was to deface the sanctuary. He said culprits have been trying to break into the church the last two weeks. There also was an earlier break-in but nothing was stolen, he added,

There were prior attempts this week to gain access to different parts of the building, he said. On Tuesday, he said the roof area was accessed and a roof window was pried open. On Wednesday, he said they found evidence of attempts to open a door.

The ACTS Center, also called ACTS church, leased the building from the Methodist church about 3 1/2 years ago and purchased it seven weeks ago, Matthews said. It is a non-denominational church that attracts a racially diverse group of people, according to Matthews.

He feels the church was targeted. Being in the middle of a residential area, he said it stands out.

“They scoped it out, decided to attack it,” he said. “We don’t know why.”

The girl was cited and released to the custody of her father while the boy was taken to a juvenile detention center, Crane said.

So far, police haven’t tied the two suspects or the same group to prior incidents at the church. Crane did not have information about those incidents.

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