RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — Neighbors are angry, sad, and confused after someone cut down a cross near a religious center in Riverside.

Irene Vasquez is close to tears thinking about the cross that once towered over her neighborhood.

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She hikes to the top of the mountain regularly, remembering her son and parents who passed away.

“I just felt a relief of stress and I would just look over at everything and just think about my parents and my son and just say, ‘They’re up here with me,’ ” she said.

But the cross is now gone.

“We’ve lived here for 33 years, it’s been up there the whole time, it’s a landmark, it needs to be there,” said Nancy Lacey, a neighbor.

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The cross the first put in place in the 1960s on the hillside just behind the Divine Word Retreat Center.

Father Mel James lives on site and can’t believe someone would cut down a cross.

“It’s very sad,” he said. “I really don’t know why someone would need to destroy the religious symbol of anyone else.”

“To me, that’s a real act of violence,” said Father Paul Schmidt of the Divine Word Retreat Center.

Riverside police say they haven’t ruled the incident as a hate-crime, but they say it is of particular concern since it’s so close to the religious center.

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Both Father Mel and Father Paul want whoever is responsible to offer a public apology. They also want the person to help build another cross.