Vandals damage stained glass window, crucifix at Marine Park church: NYPD

st. columba church in marine park
Vandals damaged a crucifix and a stained glass window at St. Columba Church in Marine Park, according to police.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A Marine Park church was vandalized last month in what police have now deemed a hate crime.

A group of people walked up to St. Columba Roman Catholic Church on Kimball Street at about 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 27 and attempted to gain entry, according the Diocese of Brooklyn. The vandals were unsuccessful — but damaged the outside of the church before fleeing the scene. 

smashed stained glass window at marine park church
The vandals smashed a stained glass window, church officials said. Photo courtesy of John Quaglione/Brooklyn Diocese

John Quaglione, Deputy Press Secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the suspects smashed a stained-glass window and repeatedly tried to remove a large cross from an exterior wall — ultimately leaving the cross with several punctures at the base. 

“Due to the nature of the damage, this incident has been designated a ‘hate crime’ and, as such, is a disgraceful act by these persons and an affront to every Parishioner of our Faith Community and the citizenry of our City,” St. Columba said in a Facebook post. 

people standing outside st. columba church in Marine Park
Police are still searching for the suspects, who were captured on security cameras. Photo courtesy of NYPD Crime Stoppers

The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident, and has asked the public for assistance identifying the alleged perpetrators. 

“We are a week away from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season,” Quaglione said. “It is our hope these individuals will have a conversion of heart during this time of repentance, and seek forgiveness for their sins against this parish.”

In 2022, the most recent year for which complete data is available, eight hate crimes were reported in the 63rd Precinct, where St. Columba is located, according to NYPD statistics, but none were anti-Catholic. A total of 12 anti-Catholic incidents were reported citywide in 2022.

damaged cross in marine park
A large cross on the exterior wall of the church was left with punctures. Photo courtesy of John Quaglione/Brooklyn Diocese

However, Brooklyn has seen a number of anti-Christian incidents over the last few years — last summer, 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. 

“The increase in hate crimes incidents against different houses of worship and people of different faiths in New York City is alarming,” Quaglione said. “Any persecution of faith defies our freedom of religion which is at the very foundation of this country. We thank the New York City Police Department for their response and continued investigation.”
Update 2/7/2024, 3:15 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional information and comment from the Brooklyn Diocese.