A crazed sanitation worker was arrested Wednesday after he was seen chucking trash at a cross bearing the image of Jesus in Borough Park.
Cops say Roman Protas, 38, was driving a street sweeper and wearing his sanitation uniform when a security camera caught him throwing items at the religious statue outside St. Francis de Chantel Church (1273 58th Street) at around 9am, just as mass was ending.
“It seemed like he was mad at the cross or something,” the church’s secretary, who asked to remain anonymous, told Bensonhurst Bean. “It was like hate act. I don’t know why someone would do something like this. Does he hate Jesus?”
Three hours later, police tried to do a car stop when Protas was spotted driving the truck recklessly in an area with children, according to the NYPD. The New York Daily News reports that officers attempted to stop and question the garbage man at Avenue L and East 9th Street, but he fled the scene. After a brief police chase, he was finally arrested a few blocks away.
Protas was in possession of the antipsychotic drug Aripiprazole, but it was not prescribed to him, so authorities slapped him with drug possession charges, in addition to reckless endangerment, fleeing an officer in motor vehicle, criminal tampering, and reckless driving, according to police.
Meanwhile, the congregation at St. Frances de Chantel is still shaken by the incident.
“Of course, we are scared, because we have sick people on the street. The next time it will be at the people, not just the statue,” the church’s secretary told us.
The sanitation worker’s mother has denied the charges to the Daily News.
“Of course not. He’s not like this,” she told the outlet. “He’s a very good person.”
Additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of the church as Dyker Heights.