CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Investigators say a 38-year-old Columbia man is behind bars after destroying the head of a Jesus statue at a church in downtown Charleston.
The Charleston Police Department charged Charles Jeffrey Short with malicious injury to real property.
Around 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, a police officer was flagged down in the area of Huger and King streets by two concerned citizens who reported that a man walking down the street had broken off the head of a statue at the Sacred Heart Catholic church on 888 King St.
The officer found the suspect, later identified as Short, and asked him where he was coming from. Short pointed towards the church, and was then detained for investigation.
The officer reported that a consensual search of Short's backpack yielded a black sledge hammer with "color dust/residue" on it.
Short was then arrested and read his Miranda rights to which Short stated he did not understand. The officer said he read the rights again to Short to which Short replied he understood.
When the officer asked Short if he knew anything about the statue at the Sacred Heart church, Short said,"I think I used a sledge hammer to strike the statue about six or seven times, because the second or first commandment states to not make an image of a male or female to be on display to the public."
The officer reported he went to the church, examined the statue and saw visible damage to the head. A police report states that the head "was completely demolished off the statue."
Short was charged with damage to real property. According to church officials, the 6-foot statue Short destroyed was placed on the property 20 years ago.
Church officials say another statue, a marble figure of Jesus with a child, was also vandalized between Thursday night and Friday morning.
On Friday morning, officers responded to the church in regards to a vandalism. Officers reported that the heads of Jesus and the child were missing. A report states the hands of the statues had also been chipped away.
Authorities are currently investigating the incident.