Connecticut man arrested for breaking Ukrainian church windows

Two windows were recently broken in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The church community said it feels targeted as the war against Russia continues.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Two windows in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary on Winter Street in New Britain were damaged a month ago. The church congregation is devastated by the incident, and the person who admitted responsibility remains in custody.

“Our community is very traumatized by this event,” Nataliya Kyrychenko said. “We are outraged. Very hurt.”

Kyrychenko is the recording secretary of the church’s executive board. She said she was crying when she first heard what happened.

Dear friends, we have some sad news to share with you! Our church/temple has been vandalized recently. 2…

published by Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Saint Mary activated Monday, August 22, 2022

The church has been in the city for over a hundred years and has served as a place of community for Ukrainians and many others. Jaroslawa Buczko has prayed at the church since she moved to New Britain nearly 60 years ago. The Polish immigrant said the church means love to her, as everyone is welcome.

“I think it’s a horrible thing that’s going on in this world. Why do people go and destroy the property that people work for all their lives? she said. “It breaks my heart. I feel like crying.”

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Wilfredo Rios, 61, remains in police custody on a $2,500 bond after admitting to damaging the windows on July 22. He faces second-degree charges of breach of peace and criminal mischief, as well as desecration of a place of worship.

Security camera footage shows Rios throwing an object at the church and then walking away. He came back and threw another object.

In his arrest warrant, he told police he was sorry for his behavior. He said there were two reasons why he did it. Rios believed someone was following him and wanted to scare them and “take some of the frustration out at the same time.”

He told police he had also been asked to leave a Polish bakery and smashed the window in retaliation at what he thought was a Polish church. Police believe Rios has a mental disorder.

“I’m in shock. I don’t even know what to say,” Buczko said. “It’s no respect.”

RELATED: On the eve of Ukraine’s national day, Russia is feared to pounce

The war in Ukraine has been going on for more than six months. Ukraine will celebrate its independence on Wednesday. What happened at her church only adds more pain to an already stressful time of year, Kyrychenko said.

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The church must pay more than $1,000 to fix the broken windows. Fortunately, the stained glass window was not damaged; only the protective layer in front. This work of art is priceless, Kyrychenko said. He said they had broken another window earlier this year.

“We have to get together, raise money and fix it again,” he said. “We want to pass it on to other generations as they passed it on to us.”

Donations can be mailed to the church at 54 Winter Street, New Britain, CT 06053.

Tony Black is a multimedia reporter for FOX61 News. He can be reached at follow him Facebook, Twitter i Instagram.

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