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East El Paso Catholic church latest vandalized; FBI unsure if cases are connected

Smashed windows at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic church on the city's eastside.

EL PASO, Texas -- St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in east El Paso had nearly half a dozen windows and doors destroyed along with a small fire being set on Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of vandalism incidents involving Catholic churches in the city, but the FBI believes it is too soon to link this act to three other cases that occurred in May and June of this year on El Paso's west side.

A fire alarm inside St. Thomas Aquinas is what prompted an emergency response from the fire department and the discovery of the destruction.

"St. Thomas did have an alarm system that did go off that alerted the fire department to come to the facility to address the problem," said Fernando Ceniseros, a spokesman for El Paso's Catholic diocese.

Along with windows being shattered, a small fire was lit inside one of the offices in the building. No one was inside at the time and no injuries were reported, but the diocese wants its members to stay vigilant going forward.

"If you see something, if you know something or if you hear something we are asking our people to say something either to law enforcement or through crime stoppers or the FBI," Ceniseros said.

ABC-7 spoke to parishioners who couldn't believe something like this could happen so close to home. While churchgoers are shocked they're not scared much less intimidated.

"To whoever did it we are not afraid of you, we will continue to come here to worship god and we will continue praying for those who did it," a parishioner said.

The church had its smashed windows and doors replaced later in the day.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.


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