The Catholic Diocese of El Paso said the 90-year-old Sacred Heart of Jesus statue inside St. Patrick Cathedral was destroyed around 10 a.m. Tuesday when the church was open for prayer, the El Paso Times reported.
The statue was on display behind the main altar of the church, the paper said.
Father Michael Lewis told KTSM-TV that "it does feel like an attack on our faith. It feels like an attack on our community and what ties us together, brings us together."
Image source: YouTube screenshot
But Lewis added to the station that the person responsible "damaged the statue, but he can't damage our faith."
Plans are in place to have the statue repaired, KTSM added.
El Paso police on Wednesday identified the man accused of destroying the statue, the Times reported.
Isaiah Cantrell, 30, was arrested Tuesday and charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana, the paper said, adding that he was booked into jail on bonds totaling $20,500, and that jail records show he still was being held Wednesday afternoon.
Isaiah CantrellImage source: El Paso Police Department
Jail records also show Cantrell has a criminal record dating back to at least 2010 for charges including possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving while intoxicated, the paper said.
In fact, he was arrested Sept. 4 by University of Texas at El Paso police and charged with assault on a peace officer, criminal trespassing, and resisting arrest, search, or transportation, the Times said, adding he was released that same day on surety bonds totaling $5,000.
Two days later, Cantrell was arrested by El Paso police and charged with failure to identify, possession of marijuana, and resisting arrest, search, or transportation, the paper noted, adding that he was released Sept. 8 on bonds totaling $1,792.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz told the Times the statue is one of his "favorite representations of Jesus," and that while he's sad it was destroyed, he's praying for the culprit.
"[H]e certainly must be a person who is greatly disturbed to have attacked this peaceful place in our city and this image of the King of Peace," Seitz added to the paper. "I hope this might be the impetus for him to receive the help he needs."
Faith leaders, community come together after historic statue was destroyed at St. Patrick Cathedral youtu.be