PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A homeless man is in jail after police say he walked into a Phoenix church and damaged several century-old statues.
“I preached on it yesterday,” said Rev. Michael Weldon of St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix. “After the mass, the people came over and knelt and many of them were weeping.”
According to Phoenix police, 35-year-old Devon Thomas entered the church around 1 p.m. Saturday, disturbing the sanctuary and destroying the relics. Thomas hit a church employee when she tried to stop him.
“I don’t know that our staff actually held him down, but they surrounded him at least until the police got there,” Rev. Weldon said.
Police say Thomas is now facing charges of aggravated criminal damage and assault.
"This does stand out because it was a church, and the items that were destroyed, very old, very sacred,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis.
But staff at St. Mary’s hope that some good might be able to come out of the bad.
“In the streets of Phoenix there are so many mentally ill, and addicted, and folks with both,” Rev. Weldon said. “It only says that we’re not caring for people enough.”
The reverend says he doesn’t yet have plans to fix the statues but says the incident doesn’t change his stance on keeping the church’s doors unlocked and the congregation open to all-comers.
“This is about people, not statues,” Weldon said.