Vandals can't shake faith of targeted Albany church

A church in Albany is healing after being targeted by vandals Saturday, the same day as the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 6:38 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 8:23 PM

ALBANY, Ore. -- A church in Albany is healing after being targeted by vandals Saturday -- the same day as the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

Jennifer Tress, Hope Church’s executive director, said a custodian discovered it around 8 p.m.

Tress said the vandals smashed windows to get inside the main lobby and the children’s center.

She said the timing of this incident shook their church community.

"It happened the same day as the horrible shooting at the synagogue in Pennsylvania, and so I think definitely for our custodian and the first pastor on site here, those things were definitely rolling through our minds,” she said. 

Marty Olson, the church's custodian, said when he stopped by the church Saturday night, he found water streaming under doors, smashed TVs, even a toilet ripped from the wall.

Upstairs in the kitchen area of the church, Olson found a torn bible strewn across the floor surrounded by broken glass.

Church officials believe this was vandalism fueled by hate.

"My first thought wasn't to call 911,” Olson said. “My first thought was, I'm not going to be able to clean this up for Sunday."

Olson said surveillance video shows at least two suspects walking into the church with what looked like baseball bats.

That video was turned over to Albany police.

Olson said the children’s center was hit the hardest.

"We take all the precautions that we can to keep our kids safe,” he said. “It just really hurts that someone would do this to our kids' building, and our kids have to suffer the most."

Although there’s shattered glass, church officials said there’s not shattered hope.

Tress said this incident will only make their church community stronger.

"I mean it could've been so much worse, especially here in the sanctuary. They could've easily shut us down for a long time, but they didn't."

Tress said they still held service on Sunday.

She said police estimated the damages could cost at least $200,000.

If you’re looking to help or donate, you can call Hope Church at 541-967-4673.

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