APD  arrests vandals

Published 8:20 pm Thursday, October 9, 2008

Investigations into criminal mischief involving the spray painting and egging of vehicles around the city of Andalusia Tuesday night led to the arrest of five individuals Wednesday afternoon and more arrests are expected to be made in the near future.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said the combined efforts of school officials and personnel with the Andalusia Police Department led to the speedy arrests.

“Apparently one adult and several juvenile offenders have been identified and have had charges pressed against them,” Williams said. “I suspect there will be several more rounded up before this situation is completed.

“Normally word spreads pretty quickly in situations involving students,” he added. “The information was developed at the school. The resource officer was involved in it and the investigators were involved in it. It was just a matter of putting all the pieces together. A number of suspects were brought to the police station and interviewed. Parents responded and assisted officers in getting to the bottom of it.”

Van Lewis Coon, 18, of Andalusia, was arrested Wednesday along with four unidentified juvenile suspects in connection with the numerous acts of criminal mischief that occurred throughout Andalusia Tuesday night. Coon is currently being held in the Covington County Jail on a $16,000 bond for felony first-degree criminal mischief and two counts of second-degree criminal mischief.

State law prohibits the release of the juveniles’ names.

According to Williams, charges were determined based upon the amount of damage that occurred to various property, adding that the individuals who were arrested Wednesday represent only a portion of the suspects believed to be responsible for the damage.

“It was spread around over different parts of the community and involved damages to a number of vehicles,” he said. “Preliminarily we believe the damage will amount to several thousands of dollars. We will not tolerate it. Obviously involving and using the resources we did indicates our position. We will use every resource we have to bring this to a conclusion.”

Williams said the pooled efforts of several individuals allowed the quick detention of the suspects.

“We had begun to receive reports Tuesday night and we continued to receive more calls Wednesday morning,” he said. “We had a developed a list of individuals by 10 a.m. Wednesday and it was just a matter of working through our list. We located the individuals and brought them to the police station to be interviewed.”

The parents of the individuals taken into custody Wednesday afternoon expressed an immediate desire to resolve the situation, according to Williams.

“I will commend a couple of the parents for the positions they took immediately,” he said. “They let their kids know that they would not condone what had happened. It was very refreshing to us to have parents come into here and immediately realize their children were involved. Instead of blaming us for doing our job they held their children accountable for their actions.

“My understanding is that several of the kids involved have expressed remorse for their actions, which is also very refreshing,” he added. “They have already indicated to some of the property owners involved that they intend to make things right. We fully expect that to be part of the solution of the cases. Restitution will be required from all of them.”

Williams said that the investigation is still ongoing and he expects several more arrests to be made before the situation is resolved.

“We have identified basically three carloads and possibly as many as five vehicles transporting individuals around to do the mischief,” he said. “They do not realize that if they are in the car at the time the act was done, they are just as culpable.”