Swastikas and devil-worship symbols were found spray-painted over portions of a Baptist church Friday, and police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.
"We don't have any suspects, but if we apprehend anyone we would probably charge them with a hate crime," Police Lt. Rex Stricklin said.
Stricklin said someone sprayed the symbols and Nazi signs on the outside of eight doors at the First Southern Baptist Church of Fullerton. The vandal or vandals also painted the walls of a bathroom with the devil-worship symbols and with a circled "A." Police were not certain what that symbol means.
Officers said they believe that the vandalism occurred between 10 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday.
The Rev. William C. Bryant told an investigating officer that nothing like this has happened before to the church. Bryant said he did not consider the vandalism a hate crime, but an act by a troubled person who needs help.
"I'd tell him there's a better way to live, and a lot better life, that they can get their kicks and joys and happiness in other areas--better areas than using a can of paint to paint the doors of a church," Bryant declared.
The church is in the 1400 block of South Brookhurst Road, just north of the Riverside Freeway, near a school and several small businesses.
Stricklin said the incident was "something new" for Fullerton, which has experienced no similar vandalism.
But Orange County has been hit with an increasing number of hate crimes over the last year aimed at blacks, Asians, Latinos and gays. The Orange County Human Relations Commission, which tracks hate crimes, recorded a record 35 incidents through June, up from a total of 16 in 1990 and 14 in 1989.
A month ago, vandals broke into an Asian man's house in an affluent neighborhood in Laguna Beach and spray-painted swastikas and other racist graffiti on the walls, rugs and furniture.
Less than two weeks before, swastikas were found painted on Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo. And on Nov. 7, the dorm room of a Latino freshman at UC Irvine was defaced with racial slogans. On Nov. 6, racist graffiti also was found painted on a wall and door of a Lake Forest preschool owned by a black woman.