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Saint Junipero Serra statue decapitated, red paint splattered on it

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - KEYT--The statue of Saint Junipero Serra has been badly vandalized at the Santa Barbara Old Mission.

The bronze statue was covered up Monday morning by the staff but there was evidence of simulated blood in the form of red paint on the statue, and the statue was missing its head.

The Santa Barbara Old Mission is one of the most treasured landmarks in the city and is referred to as the "Queen of the Missions" in California.

Junipero Serra was a Franciscan friar and was canonized by the Pope on September 23, 2015.  He founded nine of the 21 California missions and is buried at the Carmel Mission (Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo).

You may recall there were similar incidents in Monterey County. Just last year, another statue was decapitated at the Carmel mission.

Santa Barbara Mission officials say the statue will be removed. It's expected to be repaired and replaced.

Security on the property includes surveillance cameras. Two are in the area of the crime.

The front of the Mission property is open to the public, but the church and offices are closed at night. There's no fencing on the main entrance or around the lawn. 

Late this afternoon, police were called back to the Mission due to suspicious circumstances involving a man inside of an SUV on the property.  Staff members were concerned he was involved in the crime.  Police investigated but did not find a direct connection, however the man was arrested and his vehicle was impounded for numerous warrants.


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