Vandals accused of breaking into missionary under construction, leaving behind hate-filled graffiti

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ASHTABULA, Ohio — Pastor James Lyons is struggling to understand why anyone would vandalize an old elementary school he is trying to convert into a missionary church complex.

“Well, it angered me, that was my first reaction. I wish I could catch them, but then I have to remember who I am and I can’t take that approach,” he said.

The school has been the target of vandals over the years, but he said the intruders who broke in over the weekend took it a step further and left behind graffiti filled with hate and veiled threats.

“They used a lot of ugly words, the ‘b’ word, the ‘a’ word and the ‘n’ word. It’s just all over the walls and probably maybe 20 images of the male genitalia, all over the walls,” said Pastor Lyons.

They also spray painted a swastika and hung a construction barrel from the ceiling.

He said it’s clear those responsible are trying to intimidate him.

“I don’t run from nobody, I try to do the peaceful way. That’s my heart and we’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

He is now planning to install a security system that will include surveillance cameras.


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