The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspect who spray-painted “666” and “God is dead” on a Three Forks church sometime Saturday night.

Dan Springer, Gallatin County undersheriff, said the sheriff’s office received a report early Sunday morning of someone who painted on the Three Forks United Methodist Church. A caller reported around 8 a.m., that “someone spray painted graffiti all over (the) building,” according to the sheriff’s call logs.

“We don’t know the motivation behind it, but that will be part of the investigation,” Springer said.

Springer said anyone with information about the incident should call the sheriff’s office at 406-582-2100.

Sean Gifford, Three Forks mayor, said the town doesn’t tolerate hate.

Gifford said this was the first time something like this has happened in his 10 years of living in Three Forks. The city sees spray paint on the interstate’s underpass, but Gifford said this crossed a line.

“I’m hoping it’s an isolated incident with teenagers making poor choices,” he said.

Gifford said he would like to focus on the positive instead of giving the perpetrators a platform. The church felt the same way, according to a social media post on Sunday.

In the post, the church shared photos of children’s chalk art done the day after the vandalism happened. The art is of mountains, crosses, rainbows, scripture versus and words like “peace,” “love” and “faith” drawn on the sidewalk in front of the church.

The church writes that rather than focusing on the incident, it’s choosing to look at what is good in the world and is praying for people who want to hurt others for no reason.

“We are so saddened for people with hearts that are so damaged, or so weak, or so lonely, that they would do those things,” the church wrote.

Linda Fritz, the church’s pastor, did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

On Monday, the graffiti had faded and it looked like the church had tried scrubbing the paint off the brick. The graffiti wasn’t noticeable from the road when the sun was out, though it became more apparent when the sun hid behind a cloud.

News of the vandalism had made its way through town, as people passing in cars slowed down or stopped in the middle of the road to look at the message.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

Reporter

Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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