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Vandalism of the crucifix outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross by Attleboro man caught on video

Video shows man vandalizing crucifix outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross
The Boston Archdiocese is assessing the damage done to the a large crucifix located outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End.

The Boston Archdiocese is assessing the damage done to a large crucifix located outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End after a man attacked it Tuesday night, an act recorded on video by shocked passersby.

At one point during the nearly two-minute long video provided to the Globe and other Boston media outlets, the man gets off the base of the statue, looks at his cellphone, and then climbs back on and begins to attack the statue again. He wore olive green clothing and a military-style backpack and appeared to be holding a skateboard.

Officers received a call for a suspicious person after the suspect had knocked off a female victim’s headwear, Boston police said in a statement posted online.

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Alan Pires (right) and Justin Franco, both of Folan Waterproofing and Construction, inspected damage.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

“The suspect then proceeded to climb up the cross where he began to swing and hang from it, breaking off several parts of the cross,” the statement said. “The suspect broke both the statue’s arms prior to officers responding.”

Responding Boston police officers discovered the man near the cathedral and took him into custody about 6:14 p.m., said Boston Police spokesperson Sergeant Detective John Boyle.

He was later identified on Wednesday as Michael S. Patzelt, 38, of Attleboro. He was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges of damaging a church or synagogue, destruction of property, and assault and battery, records show.

A not guilty plea was entered for him, and he was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail with conditions that he stay away from the church and have no contact with any witnesses if he posts, per legal filings.

“Mr. Patzelt looks forward to defending the charges and the next step will be to appeal the bail imposed upon him by the Court,” said his lawyer, Joana L. Stathi, in a statement. “At this time it is unclear whether mental health issues are a concern as it is premature to determine that this early in the case but we will continue to examine the situation.”

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Damage is estimated at $20,000, Boyle said.

In emails, Archdiocese spokesperson Terry Donilon wrote that the first step that needs to be taken will be to assess the damage caused by the act of vandalism.

“Unfortunately, the Cathedral experienced vandalism at the exterior crucifix. I have no information regarding why someone would take such an action,” he wrote. “The Archdiocese will work with the Cathedral to assess the damage.”

Donilon said the church will leave the investigation in the “capable hands” of the Boston police.

A previous version of this story misstated the name of the church where the vandalism took place. The Globe regrets the error.

This is a developing story.

Alan Pires inspected damage to the crucifix outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.Lane Turner/Globe Staff



John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe.