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Vandals ruin Bozeman church

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 07 2013 11:07:28 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"Sunday is always our big days of service," said Father Leo Proxell.

Sundays are their busiest for Holy Rosary Church, he said, but this sunday- they couldn't open their doors.

He said instead they had to "let people know that the building had been vandalized and was closed for the present time. So that disturbed a lot of folks."

Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, vandals broke into the church.

What they left behind? "Anti-religious statements" Father Proxell said.

Hate messages were spray-painted everywhere, and items left broken. This comes less than a year after the church renovated the whole building.

"It's kind of painful to have a brand new space so seriously damaged" Father Proxell said.

The vandals entered through a window, breaking the glass and crawling through. They also broke some of the church's stained glass windows.

Police didn't allow camera crews inside on Sunday because they were investigating and collecting evidence.

But they said this isn't an isolated incident.

"It's obvious that two churches were close together as far as time" said Sergeant Travis Munter, with the Bozeman Police Department.

Sgt. Munter said just a few weeks ago, vandals broke into a different church and did the same thing.

Though police aren't 100 percent sure they're linked- once thing's for certain.

"We've had churches that have called us and wondered what they can do- and we're going to go ahead and make sure that we're watching the churches" he said.

Police are stepping up patrols, in hopes another church won't have to cancel their services.

In the meantime, Holy Rosary is closed. Crews boarded up the broken windows, and are working with insurance to pay for the damages.

Bozeman Police ask citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity. Anyone with information related to the incident is urged to call police at 582-2000.