Tacoma police were investigating a possible hate crime Tuesday that happened at Tacoma’s Holy Cross Catholic Church during Christmas Eve Mass.
Six windows were broken and possible hate-related paperwork was left at the scene in the 5500 block of North 44th Street, officers said, and a suspect was seen fleeing.
Some of the papers left appeared to be “anti-church,” police spokesman Naveed Benjamin said.
Holy Cross has a court order against a suspect who has vandalized the building several times, police say, and the Christmas Eve suspect was seen heading in the direction of the suspect’s nearby house.
“It’s no secret that there’s somebody that has some kind of ongoing problem with the church,” Benjamin said, though he added that officers had not confirmed that the latest incident is connected to the previous ones.
Officers did not have any suspects in custody Tuesday and could not find the person with the court order.
Department hate-crime procedures were followed and the investigation was ongoing, police said.
Paul D’Andrea was at the church for Christmas Eve Mass with his brother and nephew. He saw the broken windows, which he said were vandalized just after 10 p.m.
He sits on the parish council and was baptized at the church in 1970.
The same double-pane windows that line the west side of the parish hall have been broken several times this year, D’Andrea said. He said he has been told it costs thousands of dollars to replace them each time.
Mass isn’t held in the hall, but it’s where churchgoers gather for donuts and coffee afterward and have other social gatherings, he said.
D’Andrea’s preschool-aged daughter played the triangle and made camel noises there this month as part of the church Christmas pageant, he said.
“We use it for everything you can imagine, whether it’s the pinochle tournament or St. Patty’s Day,” he added. Wedding and funeral receptions also are held in the hall.
“I talked to people after it happened (Monday) night on the way to the parking lot, and they were beside themselves,” D’Andrea said. “Why would you do this on Christmas?”
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268