FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Forsyth County deputies are searching for the vandals who fired buckshot into the Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Church sign and left dozens of holes in it, making this incident the second frightening vandalism in a matter of weeks. Now the church worries that vandals are targeting the church.
FOX 5 News was the only station to report back in December how vandals were targeting the church, firing numerous bullets into the sign and building of the church.
"First time, we think it might be an accident. Second time... someone has intention to shoot," said Father Eugene Antonov, the leader of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Church, who made the frightening new discovery last week.
"There are two logical [reasons], first, because it's a church. Second, because it's a Russian church," Father Antonov said, who worries the increasing political tensions between the U.S. and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have influenced the vandals to send a scary message; Forsyth County deputies said, however, they have no reason to believe the incident is a hate crime, for now.
Deputies believe the vandals in this latest incident drove up to the sign, fired buckshot, and drove off; the motive is still unknown.
"They actually tried to humiliate us, make some sorry of statement," Father Antonov said, who told FOX 5 he and his family left Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, in search of a better life and opportunities for his family. He said most of the members of his small church are actually American citizens.
"They want the same thing. Safety for family, a quiet, peaceful life," he said, and hopes to assure the vandals that the church only wants peace.
The church said the sign is completely destroyed, and requires $2,500 to replace. He said a FOX 5 viewer donated $500 to the church after the first incident.
Deputies said they are looking for tips to find the vandals, who could face felony charges due to the expensive nature of the crime.
The total damage to the church sign and building from all the bullet holes is $5,000. The link to the church's fundraising website is below: