Authorities announced Saturday that a man has been identified for vandalizing the Dorchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Boston.
The suspect, a 33-year-old man from Dorchester, was interviewed by police regarding the incident.
Following the interview, the man was sent to a Boston hospital for a mental health evaluation and treatment, police said.
His name is not being released at this time.
The man will be charged with malicious destruction of property over $250 and tagging. He will face the charges once he is released from the hospital.
"We are relieved to know that this incident has been resolved and thank both the State Police and our own UMass Boston officers for their efforts in this investigation," University of Massachusetts Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman said in a statement Saturday. "As Memorial Day approaches, and we gather to remember the sacrifices of veterans and their families, I hope this will restore some peace of mind."
According to police, the man is the subject of a prior default warrant out of the Dorchester District Court for a previous larceny of an American flag and Massachusetts state flag from the UMass Boston campus. The warrants stem from a separate, previous incident.
The vandalism, which occurred on Thursday, was the second such incident in the past year.
Massachusetts State Police said shrubs and flowers were torn out of the ground and numerous flags were ripped down and thrown into a wooded area. Hate-related graffiti—including a swastika— was also written on the stone memorial, which sits on property owned by UMass Boston.
Authorities said the vandalism took place sometime Thursday afternoon. They reviewed surveillance video as part of their investigation.
"It's absolutely disgusting. It's demoralizing. I don't understand," said Dorchester resident Thomas Cunningham. "Both of my brothers served in Vietnam. One of them came back disabled, one of them came back in a box, and my family had come here ever since this was dedicated."
The memorial's president says he was at the site around noon. About an hour later, the vandalism happened.
"They just happened to come right after my wife and I put the flags out and decided to do the damage," said Joe Zinck. "They were here for a while."
In October, landscaping around the memorial was damaged extensively. An American flag was cut and a Massachusetts flag was taken off the flagpole and found nearby with trash dumped on top. Bricks were also thrown at the memorial which left marks on the stone.
Newman released a statement Thursday saying cameras were recently installed and that the University was committing $15,000 toward the full restoration of the memorial.
"I am horrified at this callous act of vandalism, and saddened for those veterans who are listed on the monument and their families who are still here with us. We recently installed a camera at the site after a previous vandalism incident," Newman said. "We're reviewing the footage and will help the investigation in any way we can."
"I couldn't tell you who does this," said Dorchester resident Steve Regan. "Obviously someone who hasn't suffered the loss that a lot of families have suffered."
"Somebody has no respect," said Zinck. "Somebody with very little respect for anything."