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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 19, 2011

Police arrest Alsante for Easter “Art” caper at Christ the King

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Police arrested Andrew R. Alsante, 20, for vandalizing Christ the King Church on Easter Sunday and, over the course of their interview, found that he was responsible for four other areas marked by graffiti in town.

“He likens himself to being an artist,” said Charles Tanner, the lead investigator in the case.  Alsante, of 11 Tyler Court, doesn’t have a grudge against the church, Tanner said, and, the officer said, “He was very remorseful.”

Parishoners at Christ the King discovered paint on the outside brick walls of the church that said “Your God is not my salvation” and, painted in black on a statue of Jesus, breasts and male genitalia.

Near the drawings, Alsante left his tag, which begins with a circled letter A and spells artech.  He is interested in both art and technology, Tanner said.

Other sites in town where Alsante left his mark, police said, are the 20 Mall, Brandywine Apartments, Hanna restaurant, and Heritage Village Apartments, where he wrote a message similar to the one at Christ the King Church: “This village is not my heritage.”

Alsante had been a community college student, having taken time off while he works as a clerk, Tanner said, declining to specify where he is employed.

Both Tanner and Captain Curtis Cox stressed that Alsante had not realized the gravity of his actions.  Alsante could not be reached for comment.

“This gentleman has some issues that he needs to address,” Tanner said.  Often, when people are interviewed by police, they see it as an opportunity to open up to a neutral party, Cox said, elaborating.

On Monday, Alsante was charged with two class E felonies, first-degree aggravated harassment and third-degree criminal mischief, and a misdemeanor, making graffiti.

The first charge was elevated to a class E felony because the graffiti was on a religious building.  Police did not charge Alsante with a hate crime because they could not prove he had malicious intent from the interview, Tanner said.

The investigation is ongoing and there might be a second arrest, Tanner said at a press conference on Monday.  The police department held the conference, Cox said, because there had been such heavy coverage of the crime.  He thanked the media for publicizing the crime, saying that several leads came to the department from young people.

Alsante’s arrest brought some closure for Reverend James Fitzmaurice of Christ the King, he said this week.  Fitzmaurice was also relieved that the church was a random target.

“I will let the court decide,” he said of an appropriate punishment.  He does not want Alsante to perform community service around the church, but would like him to reimburse the insurance company the $4,725 it cost for the repairs to the building and grounds.

Defacing a statue isn’t artistic, Fitzmaurice said, concluding, “He needs to find a better way to express himself.”

Alsante was released without bail, under the supervision of probation, and is due back in town court on May 19.

“I think he was trying to become more artistic,” Tanner said, answering a question about Alsante’s progression.  “I think it was evolving.”

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