POTOMAC, Md. — After surveillance video captured suspects forcing their way into a historic Potomac, Maryland church and vandalizing property, Montgomery County police are asking for the public's help finding those responsible.
The Friday, Nov. 25 incident happened at the Scotland African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church on Seven Locks Road, which is in the process of fundraising for a renovation after the historic building was damaged by flooding in 2019.
Detectives have since released surveillance video that captured several people going into the church at night.
The video shows a group of people, shining flashlights at the church's entrance. Detectives have said that shortly after, the suspects then forced their way inside, vandalized property and left the scene.
WATCH: Surveillance footage of the incident can be viewed below.
According to the church's website, the site was built by hand and opened in 1924 by Black congregants in Potomac.
"Registered as a State Historic Site by the Maryland Historical Trust, today the church is the only historic building to survive in the Scotland community. It is a site of struggle, triumph, and resiliency that deserves to be celebrated and supported," the website states.
Congregants are angry and hurt, according to Rev. Dr. Evalina Huggins who says she fears a possible racial motivation.
"We're angry because we felt that there were persons who didn't know the history of the church and what it took for that church to be built," Huggins said Monday. "The church has been there so long. We could not conceive that people were not aware that it's an African American congregation, and that we are still active and alive. We've not gone anywhere. We worship every Sunday. And so it's just a painful reminder that there are some persons, whether it was a church or not, who don't respect other people's property."
Huggins said the vandals returned Sunday night on the same weekend and did more damage to the rear of the building.
Anyone with information about these suspects or this crime is asked to call the 2nd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6710 or 240-773-TIPS or contact Crimes Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Callers may remain anonymous.
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