Vandalism at Armenian church brings hate crime charge
A man who vandalized a stone monument at St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church has been charged with a hate crime by the Los Angeles county district attorney's office.
The vandalism charges filed against 23-year-old Glendale resident Victor Petrescu were amended Thursday to reflect the change roughly one week after he was arrested in front of the church. Witnesses said he used a sledgehammer to smash a stone monument.
After the district attorney's office filed felony vandalism charges, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa asked prosecutors to reconsider the evidence for the hate crime enhancement.
"It was simply based on additional analysis," district attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said of the decision to amend the charge.
Petrescu, who police said is Christian and of Romanian descent, also has been charged with felony vandalism of religious property and a misdemeanor count of possessing tools with the intent to commit vandalism, according to a criminal complaint.
The move follows growing concern among the Armenian community and church leaders about the case.
That Petrescu allegedly purchased the sledgehammer before smashing the cross stone proved the incident was premeditated, making it grounds for a hate crime, De Pompa said.
-- Veronica Rocha reporting for the Glendale News-Press