SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A woman arrested and accused of vandalizing several Buddhist statues has now been charged with a hate crime.
OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the suspect harmed many statues, causing great concern to the Vietnamese-American community in Orange.
“To have them be destroyed in such a systematic manner, in such a pervasive manner in the community, does great harm to our spirit as a community,” Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said.
Officials say 48-year-old Santa Ana resident Trang Thu Pham was taken into custody after causing more than $65,000 in damage to eleven statues at the Huong Tich Temple in Santa Ana on Wednesday.
Surveillance video from another temple showed a woman, believed to be Pham, smashing several statues with a hammer. Authorities said she hit that temple twice during the month and that she was arrested for similar vandalism in 2015 and 2016.
Police say Pham spent over a year in prison for vandalism.
Not long after she was released, authorities say she struck again.
KCAL9’s Stacey Butler said it was a TV news viewer who recognized Pham from TV and called police. Pham was walking on a sidewalk in Garden Grove when police arrested her.