SOUTH GLENDALE — A 23-year-old Glendale man who allegedly used a sledgehammer to smash a sacred monument outside St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church could face felony vandalism charges, police said.
Victor Petrescu was arrested about 10 a.m. Tuesday after he was seen using a sledgehammer to break off pieces from the church's monument on the 500 block of South Central Avenue, causing roughly $80,000 in damage, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
Petrescu told police he was Jewish, and that "it said in the Bible he must destroy sacred pillars," Lorenz said.
The act was not a hate crime because Lorenz said detectives have questioned his mental stability.
Petrescu on Wednesday allegedly changed his initial story, telling police that he was Christian, Lorenz said.
Church staff and congregants saw Petrescu and tried stopping him, but he didn't answer as he raised the sledgehammer and cracked the monument, the Rev. Ardak Demirjian said.
When they called out to him, Petrescu reportedly turned and showed them his sledgehammer, so they backed away, Demirjian added.
The monument was donated to the church more than 10 years ago and commemorates the day 1,700 years ago that Armenians adopted Christianity, he said.
Church officials are still trying to determine how they will repair the monument since its one piece of stone with intricate carvings, Demirjian said.
"Any vandalism caused to something is sad for all the people, all nations and all religions," he said. "If he is not normal, we pray for him."
Petrescu listed the Bible and "Jerusalem in Prophecy" as his books of interest on his MySpace page.
Detectives were slated to present evidence of alleged vandalism today to prosecutors, who will decide whether to file charges.
"It would be very nice to get this guy off the streets and put him away," Lorenz said.
If Petrescu is charged, he will likely be arraigned by Friday.