Arkansas church vandalized months after being destroyed by fire

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HUGHES, Ark. — An investigation is underway in a small Arkansas town after a church was vandalized overnight.

Police got a call around 8 a.m. Saturday morning that someone broke into St. Mary Baptist Church and vandalized the building, even leaving racial slurs on the wall.

Only a few months ago, the Hughes church was set on fire, and the entire building was destroyed. The assistant pastor said they've been diligently working to rebuild the church since the fire, but the break-in will put repairs at a standstill.

The perpetrators ripped out a part of the ceiling and broke nearly every light bulb on the ceiling. Every wall was covered in slashes and holes, as well as more on the ceiling.

Covering the walls and doors, the vandals wrote "TRUMP 2020," and on another wall, they left behind a racial slur.

Hughes mayor Lincoln Barnett called the vandalism a disgrace but said it does not represent the entire community.

"This reflects a person or individuals who have low self-worth and who have some insecurities and who are attention-seeking," Barnett said.

Assistant pastor Leon Horton said this upcoming Sunday was supposed to be the first time having service in the remodeled building.

Horton said what makes the break-in unusual is the fact nothing was stolen.

"Nobody bothered or took out anything," he said.

"Anybody that may have seen what happened or heard about it through the grapevine, the investigation is going to be ongoing," Hughes Police Chief Justice Ferrell said. "Sometimes these things are not what they seem."

As of right now, Ferrell said it's not been determined if the break-in is related to last year's fire, and he also said at the moment, police are not treating this as a hate crime until they have all the evidence.

Anyone with any information should contact the Hughes Police Department at 870-339-2332.

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