BY VERONICA ROCHA
From the Glendale News Press
SOUTH GLENDALE — According to police, the 23-year-old Glendale man who allegedly used a sledgehammer to smash a sacred monument outside St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church could face felony vandalism charges.
Victor Petrescu was arrested about 10 a.m. Tuesday after he was seen using a sledgehammer to break off pieces from the church’s monument on the 500 block of South Central Avenue, causing roughly $80,000 in damage, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
Petrescu told police he was Jewish, and that “it said in the Bible he must destroy sacred pillars,” Lorenz said.
The act was not a hate crime because Lorenz said detectives have questioned Petrescu’s mental stability.
On Wednesday, Petrescu allegedly changed his initial story, telling police that he was Christian, according to Lorenz.
Church staff and congregants saw Petrescu and tried to stop him, but he did not answer as he raised the sledgehammer and hit the monument, stated Rev. Ardak Demirjian.
When they called out to him, Petrescu reportedly turned and showed them his sledgehammer, so they backed away, Demirjian added.
According to Demirjian, the monument was donated to the church more than 10 years ago and commemorates the day Armenians adopted Christianity, 1,700 years ago.
“Church officials are still trying to determine how they will repair the monument since it is made of a single piece of stone with intricate carvings,” said Demirjian.
“Any form of vandalism brings sadness to all people, nations and religions,” he said. “If he is not normal, we pray for him.”
Petrescu listed the Bible and “Jerusalem in Prophecy” as his books of interest on his MySpace page.
Detectives are scheduled to present evidence of the vandalism today to prosecutors, who will decide whether or not to file charges.
“It would be very nice to get this guy off the streets and put him away,” Lorenz said.
If charged, Petrescu will be arraigned by Friday.