Police identify person of interest in church vandalism

Jul. 6—CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa Falls Police Department has identified a person of interest in a series of vandalisms at area churches.

No arrests have been made, said Police Lt. Brian Micolichek.

"We have a person of interest we'd like to talk to," Micolichek said Tuesday. "We have not made contact with that person yet."

The person is described as an area resident; Micolichek didn't want to give further details at this time, and added the department is not calling the person a suspect.

Graffiti was painted outside of four Catholic churches on Thursday: Holy Ghost Parish, St. Charles Catholic Church and Notre Dame Catholic Church in Chippewa Falls city limits and St. Peter's Catholic Church in the town of Tilden, Micolichek said.

Micolichek didn't want to release what was written in the graffiti messages, but said the color and writings were identical in all four sites, so he believes all four incidents are linked.

"It appears it is one person, or group of people," he said.

The preliminary indication is the person or persons who did the damage may be upset because of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade, which now allows states to set their own laws pertaining to abortion rights.

"That's speculation on our part," he said.

There was no other damage to buildings beyond the graffiti, Micolichek said.

He wouldn't comment on if there is video surveillance footage at any of the four sites.

Father Brandon Guenther of Notre Dame Catholic Church released a statement about the graffiti incident.

"We continue to pray for women in crisis pregnancies, the unborn, and the conversion of all hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that they may acknowledge the dignity of life from a natural birth to a natural death," Guenther wrote. "We pray also for an end to violence and vandalism and a return to civil discourse, taking always Jesus' own fearless proclamation of the Kingdom as our model. We also hope and believe that this is an isolated incident. We trust that we live in a safe community dedicated, by in large, to the ideals of the Gospel. The outpouring of concern and encouragement is a testament to that. We are very touched and grateful for everyone's support."

Anyone who has information about the incident should contact the Chippewa Falls Police Department at 715-723-4424.