A 51-year-old man caught in the act of spraying red paint on the stone marker at the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge downtown is behind bars, charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief.
Officers were dispatched at 11:35 a.m. Wednesday to vandalism in progress, Fort Wayne police said.
“A concerned citizen who witnessed the vandalism of the statue and bridge followed the suspect in his vehicle and advised the police of the suspect's location. Officers located the suspect and found the spray paint in the suspect's vehicle that matched the spray paint at the scene of the crime. The suspect also admitted to the crime,” a news release from police said.
Larry Gist, president of the local NAACP, said he called Police Chief Steve Reed, who called city authorities to remove the graffiti.
The Journal Gazette is not identifying the suspect because it typically does not report misdemeanor arrests.
Rev. Maurice Culver of Jerusalem Baptist Church told The Journal Gazette he witnessed the vandalism as he drove his car on Clinton Street.
“Dr. Martin Luther King's life and legacy is a person of peace. His core values were unity, peace and love. To see anyone defacing this, it is a sad indictment of our times,” Culver said.
“We're glad the situation was resolved in a timely manner. Our prayer moving forward in our community is that we can have a spirit of peace of nonviolence that embodies the life of Dr. King,” Culver added.
As of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the accused vandal was being held at the Allen County Jail but will be released on his own recognizance, a jail spokesman said.
Brandriff Street home damaged
Fort Wayne firefighters extinguished a kitchen fire in a house just south of downtown Wednesday.
The fire department was called at 5:09 p.m. to 301 Brandriff St., near Webster Street and Masterson Avenue. Crews saw smoke coming from the two-story home.
Firefighters found the blaze in the kitchen and searched the home for occupants, finding no one, a report said.
The fire caused moderate fire and smoke damage and minor water damage.