Local officials in Morristown, New Jersey, have arrested Zuri C. Towns in connection to the vandalization of five churches with majority black congregations. Towns is a black man. The attacks occurred on Friday and prompted national coverage. The pastor of one of the churches was interviewed by local news media.
On Monday, authorities announced that they have ruled out racial bias as the motive for the vandalism. Towns (45) has been charged on Sunday. He stands charged with four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and one count of third-degree criminal mischief.
According to Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp, the accused perpetrator attended one of the churches. “As a result of the investigation, no evidence was obtained that would indicate this was a bias incident which legally requires purpose to intimidate a person or group based upon their protected class,” read a news release from local authorities.
On Saturday, members of the five churches discovered that exterior signage had been broken or damaged. At one church, a stained glass window was shattered. One church is located in Morris Township, while the other four are in Morristown.
After the attacks were discovered, authorities began a hate crime investigation. New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) condemned the “cowardly acts.”
Disgusted by reported vandalism of African-American churches across Morristown. These cowardly acts will not shake our faith. They will renew our determination to come together as one NJ. -PM— Phil Murphy (@PhilMurphyNJ) November 26, 2017