2 charged after Hammond church vandalized, damaged

HAMMOND, Ind. — Two people were charged after a northwest Indiana church was vandalized last week.

Aaron James Vanoppens, 23, and Nicholas Dylan Reding, 22, are charged with one count each of felony burglary and felony institutional criminal mischief.

Police said the men were responsible for the vandalism of the Faith United Church of Christ on May 29. A custodian walked into the building around 7 a.m. that day and saw the destruction left behind. Windows were smashed, bathroom sinks and mirrors were broken, and offices were trashed. The people responsible also wrote "Hail Satan" inside the church.

"I couldn't understand why. Why would some do something like that?" custodian Lori Pizer said. "It just didn't make sense to me."

The church held services Sunday for the first time since the attack.

"It shows a lot about our congregation as a whole — the fact that we cleaned so much and got it ready for service," church member Nolan Turoci said.

He also said, "It's tragic because I spend my life here, and the fact that two people kind of just did it for no reason is pretty upsetting."

Hammond police were called to the church May 29 and found evidence left at the scene. Lt. Steven Kellogg with the Hammond Police Department said there was blood found in the church. Those who broke in cut themselves on a glass window when they reached in to pry open a door.

Church elders said the vandals also smashed surveillance cameras and cut the cameras' wires.

In a Facebook post Saturday, police thanked the public "for their continued support of both the police investigation and the Faith Church."

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