A man with a lengthy criminal history is in jail on suspicion of throwing rocks that damaged stained-glass windows in a 123-year-old church that’s a downtown Tucson landmark.
Steven Henry Trejo, 57, was booked into the Pima County jail on felony vandalism charges shortly after midnight Tuesday, April 21, over an alleged rock-throwing spree the previous evening at historic St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave.
Several stained-glass windows on the north and south sides of the cathedral were damaged in the incident.
“These windows have been there since the walls were built in 1897,” Catholic Diocese of Tucson spokeswoman Steff Koeneman lamented of the damage. “It’s sad for something so treasured to be destroyed that way.”
A nearby apartment building and several vehicles also were damaged, Koeneman said.
Much of the original cathedral was torn down and replaced years ago but the stained glass windows and part of the original walls were saved and incorporated into the new structure, Koeneman said.
The Tucson diocese, which oversees the church, had installed plexiglass over the windows as a protective measure, but the rocks were thrown with such force that the covering buckled inward enough to break the delicate glass underneath, Koeneman said.
About six stained-glass windows, depicting various Catholic saints and holy figures, were damaged, some with 8- to 12-inch holes, she said. A damage estimate is not yet available.
Koeneman said it may be “difficult, if not impossible,” to repair the windows with historical accuracy because of the notably pebbled texture of the historic stained glass. “At this point we don’t know if that type of glass is even available,” she said.
Officers responded to a report of vandalism just before 9 p.m. Monday and arrested Trejo later that evening, said Officer Frank Magos, a Tucson police spokesman.
Trejo has spent years in the Arizona prison system, according to the website of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
He’s been sentenced to a total of 27 years in state prison over the past 33 years: twice for theft, twice for forgery, and once each for fraudulent schemes, a dangerous drug violation and arson of an occupied structure, the DOC website says.
He also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and possession or use of drug paraphernalia in November 2018 and again in October 2019, Tucson Municipal Court records show.
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or email@example.com.