SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a man has tried to behead a statue of Junipero (Hoo-NIP'-er-oh) Serra at a California mission in the latest act of vandalism since the 18th century Spanish priest was proclaimed a saint.

Pastor Manuel Diaz tells the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that a man with an electric saw attacked the statue outside San Gabriel Mission at around 1:15 a.m., leaving a 2-inch gash, then threw red paint on the figure before fleeing.

Serra founded nine California missions and baptized thousands of native Americans. His detractors view him as a symbol of brutal treatment of indigenous people under Spanish colonial rule.

A Serra statue at the Santa Barbara mission was beheaded in September and other statues have been defaced since Serra was canonized two years ago.

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Information from: San Gabriel Valley Tribune.