'Right-wing early-bird vandal' admits egging church - New York News

'Right-wing early-bird vandal' admits egging Maple Grove church

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MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (KMSP) -

Earlier this week, Maple Grove police released surveillance video of a man vandalizing a church in hopes of finding a suspect. Thanks to tips, police found him -- and so did FOX 9's Leah Beno.

"It's me," said Lonny Roseland, who lives less than half a mile from the Pilgrims United Church of Christ. "The main reason: I am definitely against gay marriage, of course. Although, I know I can't change it."

Making no excuses. Roseland admitted he's the man seen in the surveillance video, telling FOX 9 News he began to target the church as the legalization of same-sex marriage became closer to reality.

"Show me in the Bible where gay persons can get married in the eyes of Yahweh," Roseland said. "If they were Atheists, I would not have had a problem with them -- but they call themselves the United Church of Christ. They consider themselves a religious organization."

Pilgrims United Church of Christ is one of more than 5,100 UCC churches nationwide. It's a Christian denomination known for liberal views on social issues.

"It's our other home," said Steve Hepokoski, a church member for 23 years. "When someone attacks your home, it's a scary thing. Just as much as a burglary, you don't feel safe, and that's what we were going through. Some people were in tears because they were scared."

Roseland confessed to throwing eggs and writing anti-gay messages on the church four times over the past couple of months. Each time, marriage equality was approaching a new milestone.

"I always like going early Sunday morning. No one is out then." Roseland continued. "I don't have plans to egg their church again."

Roseland seemed surprised to hear people at the church were scared of him because they didn't know who he was or what he was capable of.

‘I wanted to send a message. I wasn't there to do main damage. I was there to send a message. That was my goal: To send a message and to get someone -- anyone -- out of that church. I believe it's a cult."

"It's not a cult," insisted Hepokoski. "It's church. It's a Christian church. We're in little, quiet Maple Grove. The doors are open."

Now that Roseland has been identified and has pledged to stop, the congregants are hoping the two can coexist civilly.

"It's a sense of relief," said Hepokoski. "It's nice to know what is going on and that he's committed to not doing it anymore. I'm going to take him on his word on that."

Roseland said if he was going to be given a title, he should be dubbed the "Right-wing Early-bird Vandal," but police have another title -- suspect with charges pending.


VANDAL CAUGHT ON VIDEO: http://bit.ly/13wW1KD


Investigators turned their paperwork over to the city attorney's office on Wednesday. Officers are pursuing Gross Misdemeanor damage to property charges because investigators deemed the vandalism a "bias-motivated crime."

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