By Sylvia Gonzalez
BIG SPRING - For the past two weeks, law enforcement in Big Spring have been investigating the criminal mischief and stolen property at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. On Monday, they went to the high school and arrested four young men responsible for the vandalism.
Around 9 a.m. the four teenagers were pulled out of class and arrested at their high school. Their crime? Vandalizing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but some of the items that were stolen during the vandalism act mysteriously reappeared two days later along with an apology note.
"Members of the Vietnam Veterans Committee went to the Memorial to do a little work and found some of the stolen items were stacked next to the maintenance shack at the memorial," Sgt. Tony Everett with the Big Spring Police Department, said.
He says they sent those items hoping to get some fingerprints.
"Those items were sent for processing and weren't able to find any prints or any type of evidence DNA or anything," Everett said.
It came down to a Crimestoppers tip that finally broke the case. Leading to the arrest of Anthony Lewis, Kevin Towner, Devan Cook and Nicholas Sharp, all of them 17 years old. Everett says the suspects wasted no time in confessing to the crime.
"Once we did begin questioning the suspects, the four of them did confess and it was learned that three of them had gotten together and made sure that we wouldn't find any physical evidence, DNA or fingerprints on the items. As a result three of them were charged with tampering with evidence," Everett said.
Burr Settles, a Big Spring resident and Veteran, says he's happy the vandals are finally behind bars.
"I am glad that they got caught and I am sure that if they had been in the service, had they known a little bit more about war and what it does to people and all that, they would have more respect for the Memorial that's now there for the veterans," Settles said.
Sgt. Everett tells NewsWest 9, the damage made to the helicopter will carry a felony offense.
"On the state jail felony, which was the criminal mischief to the Memorial, it's a state jail felony, it's up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The tampering with physical evidence is from two to 20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine," Everett said.
Clarance Hartfield, Jr., member of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee tells NewsWest 9, although this act has upset them, their main focus is to replace what has been broken.