Police: Man Vandalizes Church With Axe

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Only 11 News was there as Colorado Springs police arrested Austin Gelsinger, 31, at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs.

Gelsinger is accused of breaking into the church Saturday and vandalizing the inside with a small axe.

11 News was with church members Sunday as they started the cleanup process. They told us they’re glad he's behind bars, and can't imagine why anyone would vandalize a place of worship. They also asked their congregation to forgive and pray for him.

Walking through and around the church near Constitution and Murray, there are visible axe marks in a hallway where pictures used to hang and cuts in the nursery walls.

"It was very erratic and that one person caused all that damage," church administrator Jim Waldron said.

Church members started the clean up process after their services Sunday morning.

"No it didn't stop us," Waldron said when asked if Gelsinger's actions had any impact on church attendance. "All three services were full so it really didn't stop us."

Wood boards now replace several windows, doors and four stained glass windows created by a member of their congregation inside the sanctuary.

"Everything can be replaced, the windows can be replaced, all that can be replaced and the blessing is that no one was hurt in the whole ordeal," Waldron said.

Investigators said Gelsinger also reportedly used an axe to damage a car in a parking lot a few miles away from the church.

Before Springs police responded to the church, they were first called to 4304 Austin Bluffs Parkway for a report that a man with a hatchet was damaging a car in the parking lot. Officers found a vehicle that had all its windows broken out and significant body damage. They say it’s estimated at over $2,000 worth of damage, consisting of hatchet marks in the body of the vehicle.

Gelsinger was arrested Saturday and is charged with burglary and felony criminal mischief. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.