HAMMOND – Police are looking for help in tracking suspects who broke in and caused significant damage at Faith United Church of Christ late Tuesday night, leaving behind "hate messages."
Hammond police responded to the area of 3000 block of 175th Street for reported vandalism at the church around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Police believe the incident may have occurred Tuesday.
Police found significant damage to the interior of the facility. An altar, an organ, restrooms, a display case and an office were damaged during the incident.
Church councilmember Janice Barney said "hate messages" were painted inside the church.
"They wrote '666' and different notes like 'Hail Satan,'" Barney told The Times Wednesday night. "Everything was just trashed. They broke everything they could touch. There is glass from one end to the other."
Barney said a custodian discovered the damage on Memorial Day and believes the incident occurred the same day.
Since then, church members have been working with investigators and cleaning up the building.
"(The church) has been here since 1964 and nothing has ever happened like this. I don't know why this happened," she said.
Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said police are using "every investigative tool including video surveillance and even blood evidence found at the scene" to find the vandals.
“This is an act that shakes the core of our good city," Doughty said. "We will not stand for this type crime to any business or home in our city."
It is unknown at this time how many suspects were involved and the motivation for the crime.
Anyone with information about this crime or possible suspects can contact Detective Lt. Mark Detterline at 219-852-2962 or Detective Sgt. Robert Maldonado at 219-852-2975.