Published Apr 7, 2017 at 9:32 PM | Updated at 11:44 AM EDT on Apr 8, 2017
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
Less than a day after numerous headstones were found knocked to the ground at a Jewish cemetery in Springfield, Pennsylvania, police said Saturday morning that they don't have any proof the damage was caused by vandalism.
A woman visiting Mt. Sharon Cemetery along Springfield Road to pay respects at her father's grave first discovered the damage. A sergeant with Springfield police said the cemetery owner disputed the initial characterization of vandalism, telling investigators that they believe the stones fell by natural causes.
Headstones were broken in half or toppled in several sections of the gravesite. An exact number of damaged graves was not immediately known, but photos provided to NBC10 showed nearly a dozen burial places with headstones on their sides. Mona Ezra, the woman who discovered the damage, said some 30 graves were hit.
"We're still in communication with the cemetery. We're taking anything like that seriously," Springfield police Sgt. Pat McKenna said Saturday. "They're giving us a variety of reasons. There are no other factors that would lead us to believe it's vandalism."
The cemetery said that the reasons for the fallen gravestones include "environmental factors, age, trees and bush removal," according to a statement issued by police.
"They're going out there and doing their due diligence" to repair the grave sites, McKenna said of the cemetery owner. Attempts to reach the cemetery owner were unsuccessful.