Suspect Arrested Following Santa Ana Church Vandalism

A man was caught on camera smashing open a Santa Ana church on July 2, 2019. (Credit: Santa Ana Police Department)

A man was caught on camera smashing open a Santa Ana church on July 2, 2019. (Credit: Santa Ana Police Department)

An alleged vandal caught on camera smashing his way into a Santa Ana church and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage on Tuesday was in custody after being arrested in connection with another random act of property destruction, authorities said Wednesday.

Joel Fabian Sandoval, 34, of Santa Ana, pictured in a photo released by the Santa Ana Police Department following his arrest on July 2, 2019.

Joel Fabian Sandoval, 34, of Santa Ana, pictured in a photo released by the Santa Ana Police Department following his arrest on July 2, 2019.

Joel Fabian Sandoval, 34, of Santa Ana is accused of felony vandalism and vandalism at a place of worship, the Santa Ana Police Department said in a written statement.

As seen in surveillance camera footage, he used a metal bar to bash in the doors of a Chapel at the AME Church, 1306 W. 2nd Ave., police said.

“The damages are estimated in excess of $2,000,” according to the police statement.

Evidence left behind at the church helped detectives identify Sandoval as a suspect in the crime, police said.

“Detectives, once obtaining the identity of the suspect, found that SAPD Officers had arrested Sandoval on the same day of this incident on an unrelated vandalism charge at a residence in the 1500 block of West McFadden Avenue,” the statement said. “During that incident, he randomly damaged a garage door.”

Based on interviews with the suspect, investigators did not believe the vandalism was a hate crime, Santa Ana police officials said. Sandoval was not a member of the congregation.

Sandoval was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in Orange County Superior Court.

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