Man Arrested for Destroying $10K Sacred Statues at Lao Temple in Arkansas

Sacred statues

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.

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“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

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