Vandals Paint Depew Churches Red; One Suspect In Custody

Monday, June 6th 2016, 2:59 pm
By: Tess Maune

Members of seven Creek County churches are cleaning up after being hit by vandals with red spray paint.

Sheriff John Davis said the crime wasn't committed by teenagers, but by adults.

“There were a couple of racial slurs, and there's no reason for that at all,” Depew Methodist Church member Kathryn Smith said.

The words of hate have been painted over, but Monday morning five Depew churches were covered in red spray paint.

“It's just a sweet little old church and you hate to see it defaced,” Smith said. “There's absolutely no reason for it.”

Smith has been a Depew Methodist Church member all her life. She couldn't believe what she saw Monday morning.

“It's just devastating because we don't have a lot of resources and, obviously, this is gonna cost a lot to repaint, but it'll get done,” she said.

But Smith said the good in Depew has already outweighed the bad; by 10:00 Monday morning, she said all the community had already covered up the vandalism.

“We got help from every member of the community. Whether they went to church or not, they were up here helping. It was amazing,” she said. “Our little community has been through a lot, but we don't let stuff get us down.”

The sheriff said the vandals didn't just stop in Depew, he said they hit a church in Gypsy and another in Bristow.

“It's not your run of the mill kid prank or kid crime or anything like that, we're talking these are adults,” Davis said.

The sheriff said within hours of the crime being reported, deputies arrested 40-year-old Tammy Hall and said two more arrests are possible.

Davis said Hall is known to have some mental health issues, but, past that, doesn't have a motive.

“You would hope that a person in their right mind wouldn't go out and pretty much attack a house of worship,” Davis said.

And the hope of others in the community is that those responsible will take note of the sign they spray painted in Gypsy: ‘Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.’

“Old enough to know better. Made some really bad choices and need to turn their life around,” Smith said.

Smith said the church will be repainted Tuesday.

The sheriff said Hall will be booked into the Creek County jail on felony complaints of damaging a house of worship or its contents.

The sheriff’s office said the district attorney will have to determine if hate crime charges apply.