Summer Avenue church vandalized twice in less than a week

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - - A local church is beefing up security after two break-ins in less than a week.

Parishioners at St. Michael Catholic church on Summer Avenue are left to wonder how anyone could be so bold.

"Someone, they'd have to be not well to break into a church and not have respect for a house of God," parishioner Gina Gretz says.

Father Ben Bradshaw says both break-ins happened late at night and went almost exactly the same way.

"They didn't take anything," he said.

But a big mess was left behind. Candles were knocked over and crosses were knocked down. Even items like a gold angel statue were damaged.

"It was one of those things that nothing prepares you for in the seminary," Father Ben said.

Church leaders think the same person struck twice, first on Saturday and then on Wednesday when he busted through a window.

"Whoever it was he cut himself coming in," Father Ben said.

And he left a trail of blood. He also left a trail for police. He was caught on surveillance cameras. Investigators haven't made the images public. Father Ben hopes the video leads to an arrest.

In the meantime, the church isn't taking any chances.

"We now have 24-hour security guards," Father Ben said. "We're installing more cameras and more lights and more security gates, things like that."

He is frustrated by all the damage but grateful no one was hurt.

As for the culprit: "I just pray for him whatever's going on with him," he said. "We forgive him. We love him."

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