Police say Man Spends Hours Vandalizing Hanford Catholic Church


The catholic community is in mourning in Hanford after their church was extensively vandalized Sunday night.

Smashed windows, a destroyed altar, even a burned picture of the Pope are all that remains inside the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hanford.

“This is, as people of God, this is our sanctuary and to have that violated so violently,” Diocese of Fresno Chancellor Teresa Dominguez said.

Police say it happened Sunday night. They say 33 year old Oscar Medina Ruiz broke into the church and began his destruction.

“We’ve got video from inside the church. He’s going through the church just breaking various things, doing a lot of damage,” Lt. Gregory Freiner said.

For two hours, police say surveillance video shows Ruiz moving around the church, breaking what he could. He even started a fire inside the Sacristy. Father Mike Lastiri says the damage is extensive.

“What we know is he did damage quite a bit of the furniture of the church, the amble which is the pulpit for us, the priests chairs, all of the pews,” Fr. Lastiri said.

While most were acts of destruction, some are unexplained.

Several statues were not damaged, but were turned around to face the wall. And three cases of wine were splashed on the walls of the church.

“He was mad at the Vatican. That was his statement to the officers. He was mad at the Vatican for a lot of reasons,” Lt. Freiner said.

Parishioners stopped by the church to see the vandalism for themselves and to pray.

Dominguez says it’s a crime they will heal from together.

“We do and we will, but we have to mourn the violation,” Dominguez said.

father mike says services will remain at their normal times.. Just in a different location. He says it will be at least a couple of weeks before they can have mass inside church again.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com