Aztec police have a suspect after two churches were vandalized during four incidents

Aztec police await approval of warrant to arrest unidentified suspect

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
The St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec was vandalized on Nov. 1 by an unidentified suspect who spray-painted the church's exterior wall.
  • The unidentified suspect is accused of three alleged incidents at St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. and one alleged incident at Aztec Church of Christ at 115 Hartman Place.
  • Aztec Police Department detective Sgt. Heather Knibbs said the suspect had not been charged nor arrested as of the morning of Nov. 5.
  • Photos provided to The Daily Times shows fire damage to a structure on the church’s property.

FARMINGTON — Aztec police have identified a man who is accused of four incidents of property damage to two Aztec churches in recent weeks but won't release his name as investigators await approval of an arrest warrant.

Detective Sgt Heather Knibbs of the Aztec Police Department confirmed police are investigating three incidents at St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. and one incident at Aztec Church of Christ at 115 Hartman Place.

Knibbs did not disclose the name of the male suspect or the possible charges he was facing. She said the arrest warrant paperwork has been sent off for approval by the district attorney’s office and a county judge as of noon on Nov. 5.

Knibbs also said the suspect had not been charged nor has he been arrested as of the morning of Nov. 5.

The doors of the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec were vandalized on Oct. 15 when someone threw red automotive paint on the doors and part of the exterior wall.

She said it felt good that police were able to identify the man accused of damaging ttwo places of worship in the community.

“The community definitely rallied around us to try to identify the male,” Knibbs said. “It felt really good to be able to identify him. To make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

The unidentified suspect is suspected in three incidents at St. Joseph Church: allegedly causing a fire around Sept. 29, throwing red automotive paint on the church’s doors on Oct. 15 and spray painting the word “evil” on the side of the church on night of Nov. 1.

Knibbs said the Sept. 29 fire occurred at a "grotto" on the church’s property.

A fire started by an unidentified suspect damaged a structure on Sept. 29 on the property of the St. Joseph Church at 500 N. Mesa Verde Ave. in Aztec

Photos provided to The Daily Times shows fire damage to a structure on the church’s property along with another photo showing the red paint thrown on two of the church’s ornate doors and exterior wall.

He is also accused of spray painting the word “evil” on the side of the Aztec Church of Christ on Hartman Place around Nov. 2, according to Knibbs.

Aztec police conducted a sweep of all churches in its jurisdiction on the morning of Nov. 2 and located the vandalism on the Aztec Church of Christ. 

The investigators were able to identify the man they believe committed the alleged crimes with the help of security camera footage.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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