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17-year-old charged in connection to vandalism at Hindu temple

Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 at 3:38 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A 17-year-old has been taken into custody after a Hindu temple was vandalized.

The vandalism was reported Tuesday, January 29 at the Swaminarayan Temple, located at 4032 Bardstown Road, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Inside the temple the walls were sprayed with graffiti, including several black crosses, anti-Hindu messages and phrases such as “Jesus is all mighty," “Jesus is Lord" and “God." Expletives were also spray painted in another room.

Suhas Kulkarni is a member of the Hindu faith who worships at Swaminarayan Temple.
Suhas Kulkarni is a member of the Hindu faith who worships at Swaminarayan Temple.(Michael Williams (custom credit))

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“This is not America, and this does not represent our community,” Suhas Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni practices the Hindu Faith and attends the temple. He said the community was struck by fear as they waited for closure to the vandalism.

“The bigger picture was, 'What's going to happen? I hope somebody doesn't turn up here with an AK-47 so the fear aspect was very important,” Kulkarni said.

Sgt. Russell Montfort of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Sgt. Russell Montfort of the Louisville Metro Police Department.(Michael Williams (custom credit))

Sgt. Russell Montfort said he received a tip at 11 a.m. Thursday that led detectives to the juvenile. Montfort said the juvenile was familiar with the area but not necessarily anyone at the temple.

“No matter how big or how small the community thinks crime tips are it's very important for any unit any division to solve these crimes,” Montfort said.

The juvenile provided a statement to police and was charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Montfort said if the teenager is found guilty the courts would consider a stronger sentence based on the religious bias of this crime.

“On the positive side if we can change opinions at that younger age we are going to be much better off as a society,” Kulkarni said.

A community cleanup event will be held at the temple at 10 a.m. Saturday. Kulkarni says he is looking forward to creating new bonds as they erase hate from the walls.

“We want to go out and help if there is misinformation,” Kulkarni said. “We want to go out and dispel it. Not just for our safety but for the good of the community.”

Those who would like to help are asked to bring supplies including long handed rollers for painting, cleaning supplies and buckets.

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