Acrylic craft paint was squirted across a Dodgingtown flag memorial created in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and lights illuminating the landmark were destroyed sometime during the overnight hours, police and Howard Lasher, the owner of the property said.
"When – not if – the police catch the people that did this, I will do everything that I can to make sure they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Lasher said. "This is not just the tree. This represent what thousands of people who lost their lives for."
Paint of various colors – including blue and yellow – were squirted across the the flag part of the mural, officials said. Lights that were trained on the memorial also were smashed, police said.
Since the vandalism was first discovered at 68 Dodgingtown Road, members of the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Department responded and using fire hose was able to remove a substantial amount of the paint, although some remnants of the damage remained. Lasher said his electrician, who discovered the vandalism, also has since replaced the bulbs that were smashed.
The vandalism occurred sometime between 3 p.m., Tuesday and 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, when it was discovered, according to Newtown police who are investigating the incident. However, Lasher said that the flag still appeared intact at 10 p.m. and so the vandalism likely occurred after that.
The flag memorial was created in honor of some of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. This year marks its 10th anniversary.
"It's absolutely despicable," Lasher said of the vandalism. "It's been there for 10 years and there's never been a scratch."
The vandalism also occurred on a day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, a coincidence that was not lost on Lasher, although he said he believed there was no significance in the timing.
"It's an icon in our community," he said of the flag. "The entire community is proud of it and what it represents and I cannot feel more anger right now."
David Merrill, the local artist who created the memorial, said he planned to visit the site, inspect the damage and begin work on its repair as soon as possible.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown police at 203-426-5841.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with more quotes, information on when the vandalism may have occurred and steps already taken to repair some of the damage.
Correction: The memorial was created in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. An earlier version of this article incorrectly worded the reason for the memorial.