Ukrainian cemetery headstones damaged in Maryland; reward offered for tips leading to arrest

While a Ukrainian community in the Baltimore, Maryland area watch as Russia begins a war in their native country, worrying about their family members still in Ukraine, they now have to deal with criminals targeting them much closer to home.

Police are investigating and searching for suspects after someone damaged about 50 headstones at the St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church Cemetery in Dundalk.

The incident happened sometime before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, police told Fox 45. While investigators did not release information about a motive, the timing caused those in the Ukrainian community to suspect the vandalism was connected to the Russian invasion.

"If it happened on Wednesday, that was the time when Russia invaded Ukraine," Myron Skyrczuk told the news outlet. "I don’t know if this was some kind of attack against Ukrainians here in Baltimore."

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He said many of his relatives are buried at the cemetery. His brother's headstone was one of the ones that had been damaged.

"It was horrible to see on the same day that Russia is invading our homeland, hoodlums and ignorant people are desecrating our loved ones' monuments," Steve Humeniuk told WMAR.

Adrian Shushko also has loved ones buried at the cemetery. As the church worked to repair the damaged headstones, he said he came to see the damage for himself.

"It’s senseless. I just don’t understand why someone would do something like this," Shushko said to WMAR. "It serves no purpose. It hurts many people. I’m at a loss for words."

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He says that his parents had been in Ukraine but were able to flee to Poland. However, he has some relatives that are still in the country.

"They’re currently in one of the subways just hunkering down, not knowing what to do, with a small child," Shushko said.

Baltimore County police said their local Crime Stoppers was offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.

On Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state would match the reward for the "heinous vandalism," bringing the total to $4,000.