Vandals target Hope Evangelical church in Citrus County

- The Hope Evangelical Church in Citrus Springs is being plagued by vandals who have damaged just about every part of their property.

"You see a broken camera," said Steven Northsea, the church's secretary, pointing to an outside wall. "Five of our windows were shot out with BB guns or pellet guns."

But nothing matches what vandals did to the most sacred place at Hope Evangelical: The memorial garden, which is the final resting place for the cremated ashes of several past members.

"People come here and sit and want to be with their loved ones, and want to sit and meditate," said Northsea. "They destroyed the rocks on the pond, they destroyed the lights."

Vandals even poured chemicals into the memorial pond, killing dozens of fish.

"What I want them to know is they are not hurting us," said Northsea. "They are hurting themselves."

Monday, Citrus deputies put out pictures of two of the possible vandals. 

Church administrators say the building has been targeted six times just this year, they believe by an assortment of people. 

To the congregation of just over a hundred, $3,000 of damages is a big bite.

"Every penny we spend on damages doesn't go to feeding those in our neighborhood who need it, it doesn't go to clothing, it doesn't go to quilts for the homeless."

The pledge the parishioners make to the vandals reflects the church's mission of charity.

"The (parishioners) still want to meet these people, these persons, talk with them, and find out why they are hurting and how we can help. That is what kind of church this church is."

Anybody who recognizes anyone in those surveillance pictures is asked to get in touch with the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

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