Man smashes windows, statues during attack on Bensonhurst church

statues vandalized at Bensonhurst church
The faces of two statues were destroyed during a June 10 attack.
Photos courtesy of U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

Police arrested a 30-year-old man outside of a Bensonhurst church Monday after he allegedly vandalized statues and windows at the Catholic house of worship.

Authorities said the individual approached St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church on 20th Avenue and Bay Ridge Parkway at around 3 p.m. on June 10 carrying a hammer. Cops said he then used that hammer to smash the faces of two religious statues — of Mother Teresa and Pope John XXIII — before breaking the windows of the church’s front door.

smashed glass in bensonhurst church
The vandal allegedly smashed the glass in the church’s doors. Photo courtesy of St. Dominic Roman Church/Facebook

Responding officers arrested Randy Maldonado Avila of Flatbush at the scene at 3:30 p.m., charging him with criminal mischief and criminal possession of a weapon.

In an online statement, St. Dominic said it was saddened by the damage and “the senseless violation of sacred statues and the broken glass of our church doors.”

“We thank God no one was physically injured. The person involved in this heinous act was quickly arrested by the police . Let us continue to pray for peace and tranquility,” the statement concluded.

Speaking to parishioners during Tuesday morning’s mass, Father Michael Lynch said police told him that St. Dominic was not the sole target of the attack but rather one of many locations in the neighborhood that were damaged that afternoon.

“Someone with a hammer came running through the neighborhood and was hitting a lot of things, but they hit our statues, they hit the front doors of the church, they broke our windows,” Lynch said, thanking a neighbor of the church who quickly called authorities while the incident was ongoing.

“The police also were able to tell me that this was not just a target on the church. The man went through the whole neighborhood,” he said. “So it’s important that we are mindful of the peace that is still ours. So, we continue to pray. We pray for him.”

The damaged statues have since been covered by parishioners while they await repairs.

damaged statue at st. dominic church
The ruined statues have been covered while they await repairs. Photo courtesy of St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church/Facebook

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis thanked the NYPD for quickly apprehending the “violent individual” who carried out the “hateful act.”

“Our office has been in contact with the NYPD and the church’s pastor regarding this incident and we urge the district attorney to hold the perpetrator accountable and to the fullest extent possible under the law,” said Malliotakis.

The June 10 incident has not been deemed a hate crime, but Brooklyn has seen a number of anti-Christian incidents over the last few years.

In March, a man took a hammer to the window of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sunset Park, while in February a group of vandals damaged the stained glass windows and crucifix at a Marine Park Church, St. Columba Roman Catholic Church on Kimball Street.

In 2023, a man was arrested for allegedly spray-painting a statue of Mary, the Blessed Mother, at Resurrection Church in Gerritsen Beach. In 2021, vandals beheaded a statue of baby Jesus outside the offices of the Brooklyn Diocese in Windsor Terrace just days after a crucifix was toppled and an American flag burned at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.