A man was arrested for destroying sacred statues at a temple in Fort Smith, Arkansas in what a spokesperson from the temple believes is a COVID-19 related incident.
The incident occurred at Lao Temple of Fort Smith, located on the 4600 block of Armour Street on Sunday at around 1:30 a.m., according to 5News Online.
Authorities were dispatched at the location in reference to a theft. The two officers at the scene, Officer Hall and Officer Murin, said they witnessed the suspect, Shawn Israel, beheading the statues in the temple’s yard using a hammer.
The damage is reportedly estimated at around $10,000.
“The perpetrator was caught but not before destroying 3 of the Buddha statues that were housed by the back gate,” said Thy Sorluangsanam, who started a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe for Lao Temple.
“This incident has left many of the elderly members of the temple feeling hurt, speechless, and uneasy as the peaceful temple that they’ve visited every week in what had been a quiet area for decades has lost it [sic] tranquility.”
Israel was eventually arrested and taken to the Sebastian County Detention Center.
Images via GoFundMe