Vandalism on St. John’s Cathedral was personal attack, police say

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Fresno’s only cathedral spent Wednesday cleaning up after a man who caused thousands of dollars in damages. Police say the suspect, Jose Hernandez, admitted to the vandalism after being taken into custody — and that it stemmed from a personal grudge.

St. John’s Cathedral on Mariposa Street will always be a special place for Valerie Klose. She married her husband there 53 years ago and she always attends the cathedral’s holiday services.

She was shaken when she heard about yesterday’s vandalism.

“That’s our most closest thing to the Lord. It’s just not right for you to take that step,” said Klose.

As crews cleaned up the mess, the cathedral’s Avenue of Saints was blocked off with red tape. Police say Hernandez, 35, caused $25,000 in damage to the exterior of the building Tuesday afternoon.

Church staff say Hernandez threw rocks and prayer candles at windows and statues. He is charged with felony vandalism.

After admitting to the crime, Hernandez said he did it because he was at odds with church leadership for not being advanced within the church — according to the police report.

 Father David Lopez, parochial vicar at St. John’s Cathedral, was there when it all happened.

“[Hernandez] said he wanted to hurt the bishop or priest, that the next time he saw them he was going to do damage to them,” Lopez said.

According to Lopez, no one in the church knew who Hernandez was while he was vandalizing the building.

In May 2018, the building’s security cameras caught a man setting fire to the cathedral’s doors. Lopez said with each attack on the building comes more discussions on improving security.

“The thing we don’t want to do is keep people from their devotions,” he said. “We want people to be encouraged to come by and pray. Feel this is a safe place for them to do so.”

Parishioners were present when the vandalism happened. Lopez said he and other church leaders put the building on lockdown, which he said helped no one get hurt.

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