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CALIFORNIA, USA — Chaldeans fled to the United States to escape Christian persecution by fanatics and anti-Christian zealots. However, Chaldeans in Turlock, California awoke this past weekend to a frightening occurrence of vandalism and Christian hatred.
Surveillance camera recorded three men destroying and then stealing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of the Our Lady of Turlock fountain outside St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church.
Parishioner David Yonan, 49, reported the vandalism when he arrived for Sunday morning prayers at 7 a.m. and noticed the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary missing. According to the video’s time stamp the crime occurred Saturday at 11 p.m. in the evening.
"It was devastating," Yonan told reporters. "All the ladies were sitting there crying. It looked like a funeral."
The surveillance video shows a man climbing the steps of the fountain, then throwing the $3,000, Italian-made statue to the ground. Another man comes and takes the damaged statue. All that was left were porcelain shards that once made up the back of the statue's head, Yonan said.
"The way he hits her, it's like he's mad at somebody," Yonan said of the man in the video. "Why would somebody want to do this?" Yonan said the third man watched the vandalism and left with the other two men.
Churchgoers at St. Thomas say they want to find the damaged statue and hope the surveillance video will help police find the suspects. In the meantime, a smaller statue of Mary has been put in the place where the stolen statue stood.
Anyone with information about this crime can call Sgt. Russ Holeman at 668-5550, ext. 6753, or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.