Vandals Tag Church with 'Allahu Akbar,' Start Fire
Vandals severely damaged a church in Melbourne, Florida, after setting fire to the building and spray painting "Allahu Akbar," a swastika, and the phrase "We See You" on a shed outside.
Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon awoke at 3:30 a.m. to a phone call telling her an arsonist set a fire inside her church, The New Shiloh Christian Center, and vandalized a shed on the property.
When she arrived at the church, she was shocked by what she saw.
"It really took a lot out of me when I drove up and I saw that sign on the side of the building because I'm preaching God is love. Why would someone take the time to put a sign up to show hatred," Gordon told WKMG Orlando.
Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to the main sanctuary. But the fire still caused an estimated $5,000 worth of damage, mostly to a storage unit connected to the 125,000 square foot building.
Among the incinerated items were chairs and equipment the church planned to use to start a beautification trade school to help members find jobs and launch new careers.
***Watch WKMG Orlando's video footage of the scene below:
According to WKMG, the police say further investigation is still needed to prove the incident was a hate crime.
The New Shiloh Christian Center has about 1,500 members. They plan to increase security during service times and church functions.