A Plymouth man is undergoing psychiatric testing after he allegedly ransacked a historic Kingston church, smashing antique windows and shutters, and setting fire to Pride and Black Lives Matter flags hanging outside, according to Kingston police.

Jonathan White, 43, was arrested on July 4, several hours after he allegedly broke into the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Main Street and damaged priceless antiques, police said.

White allegedly destroyed handmade, 200-year-old shutters and several antique windows. He also allegedly sprayed a fire extinguisher throughout the building.

The incident at the church, built in 1851, touched off a multi-agency response. Kingston police called in the fire department, the state fire marshal, the state police — including its crime scene and hate crimes units — and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

White faces several charges, including breaking and entering at night and malicious destruction of property.

He told police that he worked at the church and was owed money, police reports said.

But the First Parish’s groundskeeper, Paul Frongillo, said he didn’t know White and that he wasn’t employed by the church, police said.

Leaders of the First Parish church, which was founded in 1717, are holding a “community solidarity service” Tuesday night.

“We are shocked and saddened at the violent and targeted attack on our beloved Meetinghouse that occurred in the early morning hours of July 4th,” said church leaders in a statement..

“Our historic building sustained significant damage, and the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags affixed to the front of our building were ripped down and burned,” they wrote. “We are keenly aware of the long and ugly history of such desecrations and burnings.”

The church “teaches love and understanding for everyone, including those who commit crimes like this,” the statement said.

Kingston police spotted White near the church twice in the early morning hours of July 4, but the vandalism wasn’t discovered for several hours.

At 2:30 a.m., an officer noticed White sweeping the church steps, with a vacuum cleaner nearby. The officer said he thought he “had access to the building and was hired to clean,” the police report said.

Approximately 15 minutes later, at 2:43 a.m., a nearby resident called the police complaining of noise coming from the church and music coming from a white van — later identified as White’s.

The officer, Heath Howell, saw White driving the van on Main Street and stopped him. White told the officer he had been cleaning the building and apologized if his music was disturbing the neighbors, the police report said.

It wasn’t until almost 7 a.m. that police were alerted to possible vandalism and returned to the church.

Howell was standing outside the church when he spotted White again — driving his 2009 Chevy Tahoe van on Main Street.

Howell confronted White by standing in the middle of the crosswalk outside of the church and ordering him to pull over.

But White allegedly refused, driving around the officer while shouting an expletive. He then allegedly made a U-turn and drove straight at Howell, striking and flattening a pedestrian-crossing sign in his path.

Police put out a radio alert, asking all officers to be on the lookout for White, who was arrested shortly thereafter at the intersection of Bishops Highway and Snapping Turtle Lane.

White was ordered held on $5,000 cash bail by Plymouth District Court clerk magistrate Adam Baler, according to court records.

After White was bailed out, he was sent to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth for a psychiatric evaluation, according to Beth Stone, spokesperson for Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz.

He is charged with leaving the scene of property damage, breaking and entering in the nighttime, vandalizing a church, malicious destruction of property and burning a public building.

On its Facebook page, Kingston police said the department is continuing to investigate in an effort to determine “additional facts and circumstances, including motivation and the potential for hate crime charges.”

Andrea Estes can be reached at andrea@plymouthindependent.org.

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