FBI Probes Vandalism at O.C. Church

Times Staff Writer

The FBI is investigating the defacement of Emanuel Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yorba Linda, which was spray-painted last weekend with violent pictures and obscenities.

Although it appears the graffiti attack is not related to the Muslim anger over political cartoons that were printed in Danish newspapers, the FBI typically investigates any attack on a church as a potential hate crime, said agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

"It certainly concerns us in the event the act is motivated by hate," she said.

A 70-foot wall of the cultural center at the Bastanchury Road church was smeared with blue, red and black paint sometime between 11 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, said Brea Police Sgt. Darrin Devereuex.

The graffiti included obscenities, a drawing of a gun and the words "Buddha Rules," police said.

Devereuex said the graffiti appeared to be juvenile and probably unrelated to the furor over the cartoons that Muslims say defamed the prophet Muhammad. The cartoons have sparked riots worldwide.

Anne Grethe Nielsen, pastor of the church, said that since the incident, cameras and sensors had been installed.

She said Muslim leaders called to offer condolences and to help repaint the wall but said church officials had already removed the graffiti.

"We were told the best way to deal with it was to repaint it right away," Nielsen said.

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