HELENA — Several incidents of vandalism have been reported in Helena that had vulgar and offensive imagery.
On Monday morning, employees at the Cathedral of St. Helena discovered multiple incidents of vandalism on the south side of the historic building.
Maintenance staff worked to remove some of the imagery, but have to be careful not to damage the original stone and wood of the building.
People seeing the imagery for themselves expressed shock and disbelief that this sort of thing would happen in Helena.
"It’s heartbreaking really," said Carroll College student Jamie VanValkenburg who was showing the Cathedral to her family visiting from out of town. "I don’t go to the Cathedral but I visit it a few times because it’s so gorgeous. You see it when you come in on a flight and it’s just so sad to see it broken like that."
Maleen Olson lives across the street from the Cathedral and said she had difficulty fathoming why someone would do something so senseless.
"I enjoy the fact that my kids get to run around the neighborhood and hang out with other neighborhood kids, and unfortunately that makes it a little less safe to do so," said Olson.
The Diocese of Helena said the vandalism has provided a reminder that the Helena community supports and cares for one another - especially in the midst of disheartening circumstances.
Msgr. Kevin O’Neill, Rector of the Cathedral of St. Helena, said, “I would like to express my profound gratitude for the outpouring of heartfelt support as many people stopped by or called to check in and offer their prayers and help. As our Lord taught us to pray for those who persecute us, I invite our parish and greater community to join us in praying for anyone who participated in this. Even with the ostensible lack of goodness in what has happened, it’s never too late for Him to bring about transformation.”
Similar images have been reported at other locations around town, including vehicles of elderly residents and employees at Touchmark Retirement Community on Saddle Drive.
“In the last 24 hours, Officers have responded to numerous complaints concerning vehicles and buildings being spray-painted with symbols and words,” said Helena Police Lieutenant Cory Bailey. “Officers are still responding to calls for service concerning the criminal mischief. At this time, I do not have any estimate of the amount of damage or the number of vehicles/buildings that have been marked.”
The investigation is continuing and if anyone has information concerning suspects or have damage to their property, please contact the Helena Police Department at 406-457-8865.