TACOMA, Wash. - Parishioners emerged from mass at a Catholic church Christmas morning to find hateful messages left behind and windows shattered.
The vandalism happened at the Holy Cross Catholic Church near 44th and North Shirley Street in Tacoma. Six windows were broken.
Parishioners found the damage after midnight mass and police said papers with hateful messages and pictures were left at the scene.
Church members told police similar incidents have happened there before and there’s a protection order against man who has vandalized the church several times over the last few years.
Officers went to that man’s house Tuesday but he wasn’t there.
Tacoma police said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
One parishioner said people are upset and worried that the attacks keep happening.
"This is an older parish and we have a 24-hour adoration chapel where you have people coming in and out to pray 24 hours. It’s got people worried,” said Steve Mullen, who stayed at the church all night to make sure the vandal didn't return.
Though the large shattered windows are now covered with cardboard, the vandalism didn't stop another scheduled mass because they are part of the parish hall that’s attached to the main part of the church.
Several people at the church said the man responsible for past incidents may suffer from mental illness.