Police suspect vandals set fire to the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles, reports the Los Angeles Times.
According to CBS LA, a suspect got over the gate of the temple, lit a fire and damaged several metal lanterns and blew out a 12-foot high glass window.
A minister heard some commotion and promptly put out the fire.
The Temple closed for worship shortly after the pandemic broke out last March.
“Your first feelings are those of disappointment and sadness to see what happened,” said the Rev. Noriaki Ito to the LA Times. “I don’t know the motives, but it looks like we were targeted. The only relief I find is that no one was hurt.”
The incident occurred against the backdrop of rising anti-Asian hate in Los Angeles and across the country. In the LA area alone, Stop AAPI Hate received reports of 245 incidents of hate in LA County from March through October.
Investigators obtained surveillance video of the incident showing the man hopping over the metal fence. Authorities have not determined if this is a hate crime.
The suspect is described as a male wearing a black baseball hat, a gold or yellow shirt and black shorts. The height, weight and possible race of the suspect is not available.
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