Morristown man charged with vandalism of 5 churches; not a bias crime, authorities say

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – A Morristown man has been arrested in relation to the acts of vandalism at several Morristown and Morris Township Churches, Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Investigations John R. Speirs, Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz, and Morris Township Police Chief Mark DiCarlo announced Sunday.

Zuri C. Towns, 45, was charged Sunday with four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief and one count of third-degree criminal mischief.

On Saturday, the Morristown Police Department and the Morris Township Police Department received calls from local churches indicating that they had been the victims of vandalism during the overnight hours, Knapp said.

Towns allegedly vandalized the Church of God in Christ for All Saints, Bethel A.M.E. Church, Calvary Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church all in Morristown and Morristown Church of Christ in Morris Township, Knapp said.

The vandalism was limited to property damage including a broken stained glass window and broken or damaged exterior signs, Knapp said.

Towns provided a statement to police confirming his involvement in these incidents and confirmed that he acted alone. The defendant previously attended services at one of the vandalized churches as a minor, Knapp said.

Detectives were led to Towns as a result of video obtained from one of the vandalized churches. Possessing his personal description and that of his clothing, police were able to identify Towns Sunday morning near his residence, which is in close proximity to several of the churches, Knapp said.

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, Knapp said.

Towns was served with summons complaints pending a court appearance.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook