Manassas city police suspect a group of juveniles is responsible for anti-Christian vandalism at Seton Catholic School last weekend, and school officials are treating the vulgar graffiti sprayed on the walls as more of an annoyance than a threat.
Seton students discovered the vandalism Monday morning as they approached the Maple Street school. Walls were sprayed with such messages as "666," and a statue of the Virgin Mary was covered in black paint. Police spokesman Scott Stallard said this week that police are treating the vandalism as a random act carried out by juveniles and that they don't think Seton students are in any danger.
"We think, because of the nature of the vandalism, that it was probably targeted at that school," Stallard said, adding that some of the graffiti carried anti-religious sentiments. "We do not think any of the students are in harm's way, and there is nothing to indicate that the perpetrators meant to do any harm to the students."
Most of the damage, which police estimated would cost $300 to repair, was done to the side and rear of the school, where messages were painted in black and white spray paint. The Virgin Mary statue, which is in a garden to the rear of the school, was damaged in the front.
Bob Pennefather, Seton's dean of students, said the school's 360 students are dealing with the incident quite well. Pennefather said the school held a rosary procession yesterday as part of the healing process.
"The ones who were really harmed in this were the vandals," Pennefather said. "It's sad that anyone is that confused about the wonderful thing that is God, that they would lash out against him and other people by using foul language. Why anyone gives Satan any kind of glory I don't know."
Pennefather said this was the second such incident at the school in recent weeks. About two weeks ago, vandals knocked off the head of a different statue of the Virgin Mary.
Stallard said that officers are working with the school to identify the vandals and that police are reluctant to label the incident a hate crime until an arrest is made.
Pennefather said the recent acts of vandalism are the first such attacks in the school's 25-year history.