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Tombstones at San Gabriel Mission Cemetery vandalized

Tombstones at San Gabriel Mission Cemetery vandalized
Father Tony Diaz kneels beside a statue of Jesus damaged by vandals this week at the San Gabriel Mission Church Cemetery. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Police believe vandals are responsible for desecrating two granite tombstones at the San Gabriel Mission Church Cemetery valued at more than $50,000.

A large figure of Jesus was overturned and smashed to pieces with a rock Tuesday night inside the cemetery in the 400 block of South Mission Drive, according to the San Gabriel Police Department.

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An attempt to destroy a second tombstone, also a statue of Jesus, was unsuccessful. The vandals, however, did break a cross off the tombstone.

"This is a tragic and despicable incident, and whoever is responsible for this should be ashamed of their actions and brought to justice," San Gabriel police Chief David A. Lawton said.

It is unclear why the vandals targeted those tombstones and the cemetery, Sgt. Brian Sagocio said.

San Gabriel Mission was found in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra, who will be canonized by Pope Francis, the pontiff announced last week.

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