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Vandal who damaged and set fire to Sunrise church arrested, appears before judge

SUNRISE, Fla. – A man accused of vandalizing a Sunrise church and setting a statue on fire has been arrested.

The crime at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Sunrise was caught on surveillance video.

Back on Nov. 21, a shirtless man can be seen smashing a statue of Jesus Christ before using an accelerant to light the church garden on fire.

The criminal acts caused thousands of dollars in damage.

Church vandalism caught on surveillance footage.
Church vandalism caught on surveillance footage. (WPLG)

“Even though the damage was done and we are heartbroken for the damage, he is more important than the material things,” said Father Jorge Rodriguez de la Viuda. “He’s a son of God and he’s a brother in Christ.”

Police believe the man in the video is 33-year old Ryan Charlton, who had just been released from jail a few days prior, accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Charlton’s latest charges include first degree arson and criminal mischief against a church.

Last week, the pastor showed Local 10 the statue of Mary that was left beheaded in the attack, and the statue of Francis that suffered the same fate.

Man captured on surveillance video vandalizing Sunrise church
Man captured on surveillance video vandalizing Sunrise church

An officer who had previously dealt with Charlton on the street recognized him in the surveillance footage, which led to the man’s arrest.

The church is not holding any grudges.

“We don’t condemn him, he has to forgive himself and start anew,” said Father Rodriguez de la Viuda. “Everybody deserves a chance.”


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