Naked man holding sword arrested for allegedly vandalizing temple

The interior of the Sikh Temple of Spokane after it was vandalized earlier this week. (Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition/NBC News)

SPOKANE, WA. (NBC News) — A 44-year-old naked man has been arrested after vandalizing a Washington state temple with a ceremonial sword.

Jeffrey C. Pittman broke into the Sikh Temple of Spokane Thursday morning because he “was cold and hungry” Deputy Mark Gregory of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told NBC News.

“Once inside, he became aware of what he thought could have been ISIS or Taliban items and began his destruction,” Gregory said. “Intoxication/impairment are possible factors.”

He said they do not believe the temple was targeted in the attack.

The damage to the property was estimated to be at $30,000, with some items considered irreplaceable. Pittman was arrested on charges of burglary, malicious mischief and malicious harassment, which is commonly referred to as a hate crime charge.

Since the vandalism, community leaders have gathered in support for the Sikh community, to condemn religious hate or intolerance and to promote freedom of religion.

“No house of worship in America should ever be desecrated,” Sikh Temple of Spokane spokesperson Subarna Nagra said in a statement. “While Sikhism is a distinctly different religion from Islam, we stand with our Muslim, Jewish and Christian neighbors in denouncing this act of hatred.”

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