Priests and staff members are on edge after a Buddhist temple was vandalized in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo on Thursday evening. What happened: A fire and potential arson recently occurred at Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple as hate crimes against Asian Americans continue to increase, NBC News reports.
The suspect jumped over a security fence to enter the temple's compound, which also houses a preschool, parking lot and chapel.
He then destroyed two metallic lanterns, burned two 6-foot lantern stands and smashed a 12-foot-high window with a rock.
Despite the destruction, the temple’s head priest, Rev. Noriaki Ito, is grateful that the suspect did not injure anyone.
“I don’t know the motives, but it looks like we were targeted. The only relief I find is that no one was hurt.”
At Higashi Honganji Buddist Temple in Little Tokyo at a sight of vandalism & potential arson. Last night, an unidentified man broke into the compound and smashed a window, broke two metallic lanterns and torched two wooden lantern stands. LAFD is investigating #LittleTokyo pic.twitter.com/rQK1PlR5I5
— Andrew J. Campa (@campadrenews) February 26, 2021
Safe and sound: The temple's staff members were on a Zoom meeting inside the building while the suspect vandalized it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The temple's alarm system was not turned on during the night of the incident.
Rev. Masa Fujii, one of the temple's priests who was working in the back office that night, used an extinguisher to put out the fires after hearing the ruckus.
Breaking and entering: Before this incident, two other instances of trespassing occurred in the last two weeks, according to ABC News.
A couple walked into the compound on Feb. 18 and attacked the security guard who asked the pair to leave.
On Tuesday, an unidentified suspect hid inside a Costco truck that entered the compound. The suspect then proceeded to steal a cell phone from a temple gardener.
"We’ve been here 45 years and this has never happened,” said Ito, who has served the temple since 1976.
Feature Images via @campadrenews
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