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Vandalism hits east side churches

One suspect in custody
Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 21:11:26-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A church is supposed to be a place of serenity and peace but some churches on Tucson’s near east side have been under attack.

Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church on Pima has been Sandy Holm’s spiritual home for forty years.

“It's just a heartfelt problem," Holm said. "I mean, you just look at it and you just can't believe that somebody did this.”

She is talking about a statue Jesus that’s beheaded, along with windows of a church office smashed in.

Some stained glass windows are repaired now, but they’ve been smashed and repaired twice in the past few years.

Who could do such a thing? Surveillance has captured a likely suspect for at least the latest damage and Tucson Police have captured him.

He’s 41 year old Shane Almgren.

He’s charged with attacking the Grace to The Nation’s Church also on Pima, the Leman Academy School next door, and with a burglary at Alan’s Shoes on Speedway.

A quick search of court records finds 44 cases, most of them criminal misdemeanors for offenses like:

  • Threat and intimidation
  • Aggressive panhandling
  • Drugs
  • Criminal damage.

Sandy Holm says he seems to be homeless and the Church has tried to help.

“Wednesday nights we have soup dinners during Lent. And the rest of the year. We used to have dinners on Wednesday night. And he came to some of them, you know, we would feed him and he'd sit in the back of the fellowship hall, but he would have a meal with us you know.”

But she says he attacked church members and the church told him to stay away.

Holm says Streams in the Desert has suffered spells of vandalism for about twenty years. She can’t blame all the problems on the man under arrest now but feels he needs help.

”Initially I think you feel anger, because it's part of our family that has been attacked," Holm said. "But you also know that God works in mysterious ways. And we're hoping that Shane will get some help here that he needs, you know, and I don't know. You know, it's just we have to learn to forget our anger and pray for the person that did the work.”

Shane Almgren is in the Pima County Jail facing seven different charges. He’ll need to post a 12 thousand, five hundred dollar bond to be free while his cases go through the courts.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.