Newport Beach Church Rallies After Vandalism; Suspect Arrested

A Newport Beach church was vandalized by a man using a baseball bat, who claimed to be Jesus Christ. Church members are working to forgive and repair the damage. The suspect is being held on a probation violation.

Christ Church By the Sea in Newport Beach resumed services Sunday after about a dozen volunteers came together to repair the damage done after it was vandalized Friday night.

According to police, 27-year-old Nicholas Briones used a baseball bat to shatter the church’s decades-old stained-glass windows.

“I felt punched in the gut,” said Pastor Paul Capetz. “He obviously suffered from some kind of mental illness. He claimed to be Jesus Christ and he wanted to draw attention to the church.”

At the time of his arrest, police said Briones appeared to be homeless and suffering from mental health issues.

Church member Nancy Remley, who was married at Christ Church By the Sea, called it her home. Remley’s in-laws donated one of the stained doors that were smashed. She said she has been a member of the church since she was 8-years-old.

“…Somebody poured their heart and soul making those individually and it’s sad that less than an hours’ worth of vandalism destroyed all that,” said Remley’s husband Chuck.

According to the church, 12 volunteers from the congregation came together Saturday to clean up what they could to resume Sunday services.

Church member Diana Hemsley wants to go to the Orange County Jail where Briones is being held without bond. She wants to talk with him and “find out what life has been like for him and what happened and what was his thinking?”

Some aren’t so quick to forgive.

“For me forgiveness is a process. Let’s start with prayer but I will support those who will go and visit him,” said Bonnie Berger, another church member. “We will reach out to the perpetrator and seek to get to know him. Seek to see how we can be of help to him. That’s the Christian thing to do.”

Pastor Capetz hopes to create a GoFundMe page soon to raise money to replace the stained-glass, something he says could cost around $100,000.

Briones is being held on no bail because he was arrested on a probation violation, according to police. His arraignment will likely be on Tuesday.