Man arrested for vandalism of Buddhist monastery

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 19, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Leon County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man they say caused significant damage at a local Buddhist monastery.

28-year-old Ahmad Hinson has been charged with burglary, petit theft, criminal mischief to a church causing over $10,000 in damage and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Deputies responded to the Vien Giac Buddhist Monastery at 3909 N Monroe Street around 6:30 a.m. Monday morning for a potential burglary in progress.

Thao Nguyen, a monk and the owner of Vien Giac, says his sister heard loud noises and woke him up. Nguyen discovered his car had been moved to the middle of the yard, and statues had been broken and were scattered in pieces across the property.

Deputies said they saw Hinson standing by a van that was backed up to the monastery garden. He was immediately taken into custody.

Hinson reportedly stated, "God said there are too many false idols," and he was sent to the monastery to "handle that."

LCSO says around 25 marble statues and ornaments in the garden were damaged. Vien Giac estimates the damage to be about $48,000.

Nguyen says nothing like this has ever happened before. He said the monks live in peace at the monastery and spread a message of compassion.

Monks have lived at Vien Giac for four years. It is not a public monastery, but people often walk through the garden.

Hinson is set to make his first appearance in court Tuesday morning.

WCTV has confirmed with the State Attorney's Office that Hinson is currently on probation for his role in a deadly shooting in Tallahassee on July 4, 2012.

Hinson was accused of acquiring the gun and handing it to the man who fired the fatal shot. He was charged as an accessory and later entered a plea. He was sentenced to jail time and two years' probation.

Hinson is to remain on probation until December of 2019.

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