Police arrested a man for allegedly destroying a temple in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The incident occurred at Lao Temple located on the 4600 block of Armour Street on Sunday around 1:30 am, reports 5 News. According to police, two officers, Hall and Murin, responded to a theft call and witnessed Shawn Israel destroying Buddhist statues in the yard. The 21-year-old suspect used a hammer to destroy the statues and it is estimated he did around $10,000 in damages. Police said Israel told them that he had been hammering the statues for two days.
Shawn Israel was arrested for criminal mischief and taken to the Sebastian County Area Detention Center.
A spokesperson for the Lao Temple wants to know what the motive behind the crime was but he believes it was coronavirus related. Anti-Asian hate crimes have surged since the coronavirus outbreak across America.
“Our community is very, very sad,” the spokesperson said. “We don’t want this to happen to any church, any temple in America or around the world.”
The Lao Temple in Fort Smith, Arkansas is 31-years-old.
As a result of the coronavirus, it’s going to, unfortunately, take time to replace the statues from Thailand. It might take up to a month to a year.