Armed naked man damages local Sikh Temple
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Members of the Spokane Valley Sikh Temple are cleaning up after a naked man broke into the building Thursday morning.
Spokane Valley Sheriff's Deputies responded to a report about the man around 5:45 a.m.
The suspect was found in a restroom by one of the temple members holding two swords around 5:00 a.m.
When deputies arrived, Jeffrey C. Pitman, 44, had been detained by witnesses. Witnesses said when they arrived to the Temple, they found Pittman inside naked, with a blanket wrapped around him and holding a decorative sword.
Temple members said the man destroyed their Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which is a 400-year-old holy book. Officials said he destroyed thousands of dollars worth of sacred material. The man also set off a fire extinguisher, according to Temple leaders.
"Our lives are based off of the teachings of these book. So it's like a part of your soul is being ripped out," said Subarna Nagra, a member of the Sikh community.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said, "All religions should be respected. Any crime committed due to someone's religious beliefs will be a priority and fully investigated."
The YWCA called for members of the Spokane community to stand together against the act of vandalism and turn it into an opportunity for the community to learn more about the Sikh community.
"We stand with YWCA board and temple member, Subarna Nagra during this painful time," said YWCA of Spokane CEO Regina Malveaux. "No faith community should have their sacred space violated or have their congregants made to feel unsafe in their place of worship."
The YWCA is holding a press conference at the Sikh Temple at 4:00 p.m. Thursday.
Officials said the damage is estimated to be several thousand dollars.
Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the man and was charged with Malicious Harassment, Malicious Mischief and Burglary. Officials said this is not a hate crime. They are still investigating why the suspect did this.