Charges laid in incidents of vandalism at a church in summer


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Charges were laid for two cases of vandalism at a church this summer after a keen-eyed detective spotted one of the suspects seen in CCTV footage.

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The vandalism took place on the night of June 30, 2021, when orange and red paint was smeared on the exterior of 11 churches around Calgary. In a church, a window was smashed so that paint could be thrown inside.

Graffiti on churches included handprints and the number “215”. Police say the vandalism is believed to have been in response to the discovery of children’s graves in the old church and government residential schools for First Nations children.

Police released CCTV footage after the July incidents. A month later, a detective working on another case noticed a man who closely matched the description of one of the vandalism suspects and the police were then able to gather more evidence.

“Our investigators are very dedicated to the work they do and continue to look for new leads even when a case appears to be resolved,” said the staff sergeant. Kurt Jacobs of the Calgary Police General Investigation Unit. “When we get new information, it often breathes new life into an investigation, as was the case in this case. “

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In a statement, the police department said it was “aware of the trauma and lingering tensions in the community” regarding troubling stories about the residential school system that have come to light over the past year, and that police remains committed to working for peaceful reconciliation. .

Police charged Sebastian Rodriguez-Huerta, 23, of Calgary, with two counts of mischief on property primarily used for religious worship. They say the incidents can reach the threshold of being hate crimes.

The service continues to investigate a case of arson at a church that occurred around the same time. People with information about any of the incidents are asked to call the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or submit an anonymous tip via Crime stoppers.

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