GAMBRILLS, Md. - Police in Maryland arrested a man who they believe vandalized a Gambrills church, which has been targeted previously, and wrote an offensive message on its door.
Anne Arundel County Police say the alleged vandalism happened on the night of August 3 at the Kingdom Celebration Center located at 952 Annapolis Road.
Donald Eugene Hood, Jr., 66. (CREDIT: Anne Arundel County Police Department)
According to police, officers responded to the area for reports of vandalism and noticed an offensive message was written on the door of the church.
Police said they used surveillance footage to identify the suspect in the case as Donald Eugene Hood, Jr., 66.
On Friday, officers took Hood into custody after he was spotted near Annapolis Road and Burns Crossing Road.
Hood is charged with malicious destruction of property, three counts related to destruction, harassment and targeting a group based on their racial, ethnic, sexual orientation or disability status.
Hood was released on his own recognizance after an initial hearing with a judge.
Police say the case remains under investigation.
According to investigators, this is the second act of hateful vandalism to happen at the church since early July.
In response to the vandalism, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman issued the following statement:
"On Wednesday evening, the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to a racially-motivated vandalism incident at the Kingdom Celebration Center in Gambrills. This is the second time in a matter of weeks that the Kingdom Celebration Center has been the victim of racist graffiti, and I am appalled by these acts of hate targeting Black churches in our communities. Last time we gathered at their church the next day with the Anne Arundel County NAACP, United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County, Caucus of African American Leaders, Connecting the Dots, The CAST of Anne Arundel County, and community members to show a united front against racism and to show Apostle Antonio Palmer, First Lady Barbara Palmer, and their community our love. We called for our residents to speak up if they had any information about the crime or other hate-motivated vandalism in the area, and today we echo that call. Through investigative means and the assistance of a surveillance camera, officers developed a description of the suspect and subsequently identified the suspect as Donald Eugene Hood Jr, 66-years-old. An arrest warrant is on file. I have instructed our police department to use all available resources to capture the perpetrator of this act, but it is clear to me that we must all participate in the apprehension of those who deliberately sow discord in our communities. If you have any additional information about this crime or other acts of hate, please make an anonymous call to the Police Tip Line at 410-222-4700. To my fellow residents who believe that we are all created equal, I urge you to join me in denouncing racist hate wherever and whenever it occurs. And to those who continue to harass our neighbors and commit these disgusting hate crimes, know that your bigotry will not stop the work of these excellent Black leaders, and know that when you are arrested you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Despite these hateful efforts, we will never stop working to make Anne Arundel County The Best Place - For All."
On Sunday, county leaders and clergy officials will hold a press conference to discuss the recent acts of vandalism and the arrest made in the August 3 incident.