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People seeing new image — Jesus on the cross
Vision: Angel reflection gone at Olive Avenue store.
An image of what appeared to look like an angel on the window of a local store is gone but a sea of people longing to catch a glimpse of the heavenly creature flocked to the site tonight hoping to see not only the angel but also something new — an image of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross on a nearby palm tree.
“I went looking for the angel and it was gone,” Robert Sanchez said today. “Then someone said Christ was there and I looked up and I saw him. Christ was on the cross, arms out, head down, his beard, his eyes — down to the last detail. You can see his ribs and his stance with his knees up and arms hanging to the side. I was thrilled. To have two sightings in the same place — it confirms that the image on the window was not fake.”
Sanchez said he saw the new image around 8:45 p.m. Monday and again at 2 a.m. today when he returned with his family.
Two Porterville police officers and the PPD traffic patrol supervisor monitored the activity tonight.
“We’re out here to make sure everyone is safe,” said traffic patrol supervisor Mark Acevedo. “Other than the traffic issues, there have been no problems.”
Crowds of people could be seen on both sides of Olive Avenue. Some people parked east of the highway and walked to the 1000 block of West Olive Avenue.
Most of the crowd could be seen taking photographs. Some claimed to see it, some didn’t. Television crews were interviewing people.
The Rev. Steve Benton, pastor from Hope Restoration Ministries in Poplar, placed a cross at the base of the palm tree.
“My wife and I were here to share our faith with the people who are drawn to this image in the window,” Benton said. “I have been out here for two nights and never saw it myself but these people are looking for something to fill the vacuum in their lives. That is why I put up the cross, because it is an image that is really clear. People are looking for something. People are looking for hope.”
Porterville resident Trina Leon said her heart felt heavy when she saw the people.
“My heart just sank. People want to believe,” Leon said. “I said ‘People, this is not of God.’ It was an illusion. I call it mass hysteria. People want to have hope but that hope needs to lie in God. Instead of turning to a palm tree or a window, they need to look for God.”
The angel in the window turned out to be nothing more than reflections of light from the mini mart across the street. But people who have been gathering at the site are not convinced.
“People will see whatever they want to see. That’s imagination,” Adel Joudi, owner of Xpress Gas and Minit Mart, said. “The angel has been there since I opened the store two years ago. It was a light reflection. If I turn on the light, it is there. If the light is off, it is gone.”
Nearly 400 people arrived Monday night to see the angel, he said.
“I had to call the police,” Joudi said. “They couldn’t control the crowd. I had to shut my store down for two hours while they got all the cars out of here.”
Joudi said he was forced to turn off the lights directly under the overhang of his business to prove to the people that the angel was caused by a light reflection.
“But people wouldn’t believe it. They wouldn’t leave. They hung around the area until 1 a.m. to see if the angel would return,” Joudi said. “I just want them to go away. I want them to know that the angel will not return. I have a business. I just want people to respect my business.”
Across the street, the owners of Color Tile, Ron and Teri Johnson, also talked about the mass crowd.
“There were so many people [Monday] night. They were in the street, in the street median, in the parking lots, at the empty brick house across the street, in the empty field — they were everywhere. It was unbelievable,” Ron Johnson said. “It is wonderful and exciting and nice but I don’t think it is a miracle.”
(See video of image site in the column to the right)
-- Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1047 or email@example.com.