Local News


Iraqi Catholic church broken into and targeted in apparent arson

Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-09 21:20:13-04

Members of a local Catholic church are in shock because of a crime over the weekend that has also left them hurt and confused.

St. Barbara Chaldean Catholic Church was broken into, burglarized, and apparently the target of an attempted arson.

"We were shocked," Father Ray Sarkees, the church pastor said. "We're all shocked about it."

Several heavy-duty fans cover the floor of the building. They're drying things out after the sprinklers went off. A black scorch mark covers a large area around the altar.

Sarkees says a church safe and a sound system were stolen, along with donation boxes.

Michael Patros, a member of the small church, says he's heartbroken.

"Who would do something like this and why?" Patros said. "What did we do to upset somebody? What was the reason? What were they getting out of it?"

Almost all of the 150 to 200 families that belong to the church are Iraqi.

Sarkees says they came to America at some point in the last several decades seeking religious freedom.

Without knowing anything about a motive yet, church members do not want to call this a hate crime.

"It looked like their intent was to destroy and to cause as much damage as possible," Patros said. "Who they were or why that was the case we can't really say."

The church has started a GoFundMe account to help in the recovery from this incident.

If you'd like to donate, click here.