Priest Declares War on Skateboarding Vandals in New Orleans Suburb

After burglars and vandals repeatedly hit a Bucktown church and school, the priest told his congregation, "This is war, and I will win this war. Playtime is over."

Since the July 4 holiday, about $1,600 worth of property was stolen from St. Louis King of France School. A window was broken more recently.

There is even evidence that someone may have skateboarded inside St. Louis King of France Church, The Rev. Burnick Terrebonne, known as Father Bernie, wrote in a recent church bulletin.

Officials think the crimes and vandalism were committed by gang members who may be current or former students at the school, he said during a vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon.

"I will break this gang up. Believe me, I will own them," he said.

He offered a bounty: $25 for a name, $50 if the named scofflaw is arrested and $150 if the person is convicted.

Terrebonne wouldn't comment Monday. But the Rev. William Maestri, spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans, said parish officials decided this weekend they had reached their limit.

"The pastor is appealing to parents and the church members that they would indeed come forward and say who is involved" he said.

A Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office incident report shows that stolen property included computer equipment, a CD player, a children's blow-up pool and a fire extinguisher. The thieves also scrawled graffiti in a classroom.

There have been several incidents since.

Carol Marsalone, 71, who attended Saturday's Vigil Mass, said she and others in the congregation were disturbed to hear that the trespassers had used tables as skateboarding ramps.

"It's sacrilegious to go into a church and use a skateboard and do God-knows-what," she said. "We're all pretty upset about it."

Terrebonne, who had let skateboarders use church and school grounds, ordered them off. Both properties are now a "No Skateboard Zone," the church bulletin said.

Officials are also buying a $25,000 surveillance and alarm system, Maestri said.

Terrebonne's message Saturday brought a round of applause from the congregation.

"I am not a weakling," he told them, "and I won't have my house broken into."