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Arrest made in case of vandalism inside Torrington church

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Credit: Ed Peruta

TORRINGTON – Extensive vandalism was found Thursday inside St. Francis Catholic Church on Main Street in Torrington.

Police said statues and candles were tipped over, plants dumped, artwork taken off the walls, and papers were strewn about.

As part of the vandalism spree, the fire alarm was set off just before noon, which led to the fire department responding, then notifying police. There were no surveillance cameras at the church, but father John Gavato, the pastor at the church, told police he believed he knew who committed the crime.

Earlier this week, a man had come to the church asking to convert to Catholicism and was reportedly aggressive with church staff. Gavato said that same man was on church property just an hour before the vandalism took place, screaming and causing a scene in the church garden. Gavato had tried talking to him and the man said he was just trying to pray.

After giving police a description of the suspect, police arrested Shumel Pollen, 33, of Rockway, New Jersey, in connection to the crime. He was charged with desecration of a property, breach of peace and criminal mischief. He is being held on a $25,000 bond.

The church was unlocked at the time but there was nobody inside other than the vandal.