Man Arrested in Connection With Vandalism, Arson Targeting Landmark Catholic Church in North Hollywood
A man was arrested on Monday in connection with a crime series that left a Catholic church in North Hollywood heavily damaged before spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood last week.
Russel Congleton, 58, is accused of breaking into St. Charles Borromeo Church at 10800 Moorpark St. before dawn last Wednesday, July 25.
He entered through a double door and attempted to spark three separate fires before wreaking havoc throughout the church, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Multiple stained glass windows were smashed, religious statues and texts were damaged, paschal candles and their holders were strewn about and holy oils were spread throughout the church, officials said.
Upon exiting the building, Congleton set fire to the outside of the door, police said.
He then allegedly went to a nearby Chase Bank and ignited a trash dumpster. Five vehicles in the area also had their windows smashed, and authorities implicated Congleton in that vandalism as well.
Dozens of parishioners arriving for mass that morning found a crime scene.
Police told the Los Angeles Times more than $100,000 worth of damage was wrought within St. Charles Borromeo. The Catholic church, on the border of North Hollywood on Studio City, is one of the oldest churches in the San Fernando Valley.
The parish is also led by Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was involved in more than $700 million in legal settlements surrounding cover-ups of child sexual abuse by priests, the Times reported.
LAPD said it would present its vandalism investigation to the district attorney’s office on Wednesday. It’s unclear what evidence it has tying Congleton to the crime series.
The 58-year-old was taken into custody shortly before 8 a.m. Monday and was being held on $46,000 bail, inmate records showed.