After five Black churches were vandalized in New Jersey, authorities have charged 45-year-old Zuri C. Towns with four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and one count of third-degree criminal mischief.
In a statement released Sunday, authorities investigating the crime ruled out racial bias as the motive in these crimes. "As a result of the investigation, no evidence was obtained that would indicate this was a bias incident which legally requires purpose to intimidate a person or group based upon their protected class.”
Congregants of the five churches in Morristown and in Morris Township discovered damage to exterior signs and at one church, a broken stained-glass window. As reported by New Jersey News, the pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church says the vandalism caused some church attendees to stay home from services on Sunday.
The churches vandalized were The Church of God in Christ for All Saints, the Bethel A.M.E. Church, the Calvary Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church and The Morristown Church of Christ in Morris Township.
Governor-Elect Phil Murphy condemned the vandalism over the weekend.
Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said Towns attended services at one of the vandalized churches as a child. The Church of God in Christ for All Saints captured footage of a man, later determined to be Towns throwing a rock against a window. Towns, who lives in the area of the churches, was apprehended and subsequently admitted to the authorities that he acted alone.
Towns was issued a summons for a pending court date.