FILE PHOTO: St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Circular Road Belmont. –
ONE man was admitted to St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital and another remains in police custody in connection with damage done to the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Circular Road Belmont.
Mere days before the church marks its 120th anniversary, the men are believed to have entered the compound and maliciously damaged and destroyed property at the national heritage site on Saturday afternoon.
The church is currently under renovation and has not been used for over ten years because of disrepair in and around it. That building is blocked off with galvanise sheets.
Church mass is being held at the pastoral centre on the west end of the church’s compound. This is where two men were caught on CCTV footage smashing all the windows and tossing one of the statues on the outside of the building.
Though media reports said the incident occurred on Sunday morning, the date and time on CCTV footage circulating on social media showed one of the two men first entered the compound on Saturday at 4.19 pm.
In the video, the main suspect was seen wearing a yellow head turban, and a yellow robe strolling onto the compound waving a multi-coloured flag.
At 4.20 pm a man in a long light blue jeans pants and a black T-shirt ran from the centre to the main gate. Seconds later an SUV drove in and an elderly guy was seen in the frame walking towards the main suspect as he began to smash the glass.
It seems as though no harm was done to three vehicles parked near the entrance. Some plant pots were also overturned.
The suspect used the pole of the flag to break the window glass. He picked up the statue with his hands and threw it. The video has no audio but the man’s mouth can be seen muttering words as he walked away from the building.
The camera zoomed out to show the second man with the book in his left hand and stick in the right hand, pacing on the compound as though to initiate a ritual.
The second suspect who was dressed in red and white was not seen causing damage any of the church’s property in the video.
Newsday understands around 20 parishioners were praying inside the church when the incident happened.
When Newsday visited the church on Sunday, just before noon, the main gate was locked and there was no one on the compound.
Black plastic bags were taped to the windows to cover the damage.
The men were held by police for questioning and in another video on social media, they were on their knees, handcuffed and wearing the same clothes.
It seems, in the second video, the men were in a police station as a man was heard in the background asking them for their names and addresses.
The men seemed breathless. They spoke continuously as they were being questioned by police. It was unclear what language the men were speaking.
During the brief interrogation, the men only gave their first names as Anthony and Ali. Much of what was said was difficult to understand.
Commenters on social media described their behaviours as being in a possessed state.
Police are working to get the value of the damage to the church before charging the men.