Mt. Lebanon (KDKA) — A man is facing charges for allegedly vandalizing three Mt. Lebanon churches, including trying to light one of the structures on fire.
Police say 21-year-old Triston Crooks smashed doors and windows at St. Bernard, Mount Lebanon United Methodist, and Mt. Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Churchs on Wednesday evening.
They also say he tried to light the Methodist church on fire.
Pastor Tom Strandburg of Mount Lebanon United Methodist said he is trying to figure out why someone would do this.
“It was very upsetting,” he said. “You feel violated, and at the same time, very sorry for this individual.”
The preschool director at the Mt. Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church noticed the door and two windows at the school were broken after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
She called the Reverend Carolyn Poteet.
“We found that there were two windows that had been smashed in and the door to our preschool,” Poteet said.
Poteet said it appeared the suspect threw a small weight through the door.
He also allegedly dumped white paint over the church’s pavement.
Police believe Crooks used a grave marker from a nearby cemetery to cause some of the damage.
On Thursday morning at the United Methodist Church, volunteers discovered a shattered door and window.
They also noticed a burnt Kleenex box and marks on the floor.
Strandburg said there’s now a large mark on the floor just inside the shattered door.
“The floor had been ignited and an attempt had been made to start a fire here in the building,” Strandburg said.
Down the street, a window was smashed at St. Bernard Church.
Police believe Crooks did not enter any of the buildings.
Earlier Wednesday evening, Crooks allegedly rang the Methodist church’s doorbell and when the receptionist answered, he yelled that he “Wanted to speak to the pedophiles.”
Later, police said he approached a woman in the church daycare parking lot.
He then began yelling at her, saying “Why do you let your children go there, it’s full of pedophiles?”
Crooks faces several charges including criminal attempted arson, institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct.
He also faces charges for making terroristic threats in an unrelated incident on Wednesday.
Police said Crooks sent threatening text messages to a University of Pittsburgh student and two others.
He is also accused of damaging the student’s vehicle on the university’s campus.
Police said they found business cards in the vehicle with Crooks’ name and contemporary abstract paintings.