Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Police Charge Morristown Man but Investigation Rules Out Bias Crimes

Morris County Prosecutor's Office sealMorris County authorities tonight have announced that an arrest has been made  in relation to the acts of vandalism at several churches in Morristown and Morris Township that occurred overnight on Friday, Nov. 24 into the morning of Saturday, Nov. 25.

Zuri C. Towns, 45, of Morristown, has been identified as the person allegedly responsible for these acts.

He and was arrested and charged by police detectives today, according to a joint statement by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Investigations John R. Speirs, Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz, and Morris Township Police Chief Mark DiCarlo.

Towns provided a statement to police confirming his involvement in these incidents and confirmed that he acted alone, according to authorities. They said the defendant previously attended services at one of the vandalized churches when he was a minor.

On Saturday, the Morristown and Morris Township police departments received calls from local churches indicating that they had been the victims of vandalism during the overnight hours.  The churches are:

  • Church of God in Christ for All Saints, 3 Rowe Street, Morristown
  • Bethel A.M.E. Church, 59 Spring Street, Morristown
  • Calvary Baptist Church, 10 Martin Luther King Avenue, Morristown
  • Union Baptist Church, 89 Spring Street, Morristown
  • Morristown Church of Christ, 265 Martin Luther King Avenue, Morris Township

Morristown Police Dept. patchThe vandalism was limited to property damage including a broken stained glass window and broken or damaged exterior signs.  The incidents were treated as a possible bias crimes.

Detectives were led to the suspect, Zuri Towns, as a result of this Church Video obtained from one of the vandalized churches which provided police with the suspect’s personal description and clothing. Police were able to identify the defendant this morning near his residence, which is in close proximity to several of the churches.Morris Township Police Dept. patch

Towns was charged with four counts of fourth degree criminal mischief and one count of third degree criminal mischief. However,   As a result of the investigation, no evidence was obtained that would indicate this was a bias incident which legally requires purpose to intimidate a person or group based upon their protected class.

Towns was served with summons complaints pending a court appearance.

Prosecutor Knapp would like to thank the Morristown and Morris Township Police Departments for their role in this investigation along with members of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in arresting the defendant today.  The Prosecutor also extends his thanks to members of the local clergy, especially Pastor Robert Rogers and Pastor Craig Dunn, for their assistance.

Inquiries should be addressed to First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas A. Zelante at [email protected] or 973-285-6252