RESTON, Va. — A fire was set on the grounds of a local church Sunday and the building was defaced with graffiti to display comments about the Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, according to Reston police.
The Fairfax County fire department arrived on the scene around 6:45 a.m. Sunday morning at St. John Neumann Catholic Community Church at 11900 Lawyers Road in Reston. They had gotten a report of "smoldering mulch."
However, upon investigating, fire personnel said they found an "accelerant" likely used in the fire and also found graffiti, spray-painted on a sign at the church's entrance. After the two discoveries, the fire department also called in the police for assistance.
Officers ultimately found three more locations on the back of the building damaged by graffiti.
"The remarks spray painted were related to the recent Supreme Court Roe v Wade ruling," police said in a Sunday release; however, they did not specify what the writing said or if it was in support or against the ruling. Police also did not say what, if any, connection the church may have had to the topic.
Photos captured by WUSA9 at the church show the words "THIS WON'T STOP" and "SEPERATION OF CHURCH + STATE [sic]" scrawled on the building.
The decision by the court's conservative majority, which was released Friday and ended 50 years of federally guaranteed access to abortion, is expected to lead to bans in roughly half the states.
In the state, Gov. Glenn Youngkin praised the much-anticipated ruling. Abortion is currently legal in Virginia up to 25 weeks into a pregnancy, but Youngkin has said he's in favor of a 15-week threshold.
Officers have since announced that they are working with the staff of the church to review surveillance footage and continue to have increased patrols at places of worship. They also shared that they are working with regional law enforcement partners to determine who could be responsible.
Police ask that anyone who may have information about this incident contact detectives at 703-478-0904. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text – Type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411, and by web – Click HERE. Download the Mobile tip411 App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers.” Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars, according to police, who ask the public to please leave contact information if they would like a detective to follow up.