The Monroe County Sheriff's Department is announcing the arrest of two men in connection with the vandalizing of the bronze memorial sculpture at the VFW Post 8495 in Fairport.
22 year old 22-year old Rhys Baetzhold of Pittsford and 18-year old Anthony Fennell of Perinton face felony grand larceny and criminal mischief charges, along with a misdemeanor conspiracy charge.
Undersheriff Drew Forsythe says Deputy Clay Hilliger had spotted Baetzhold, someone he suspected of being involved in other crimes in the area.
“During the conversation with him, he engaged him about the damage to the monument, and he admitted to actually damaging it and taking the monument,” he said.
Forsythe credits Deputy Hilliger's work in this investigation.
"He sees this kid riding on his bicycle in the middle of the night, and stops him. Anybody else, you just kind of let him go, the kid wasn’t committing a crime or anything at the time, he was riding his bicycle. And so the deputy steps out and engaged him in conversation which leads to an admission which leads to the location of this property,” he said.
Forsythe says deputies found the monument at Fennell's home.
He adds law enforcement and veterans go hand in hand with service above self, and it’s sad to see someone disrespect that.
Meantime, an effort to replace the memorial was already underway through a “Gofundme” campaign started by the Iron Smoke Distillery in the village.
Distillery co-founder Steve Brown says they've pledged to match every dollar that is raised.
“We’re huge believers in supporting the military, and when we heard about this senseless act, we felt that it was important for to rally the community around those people that served, and make sure the statue is replaced," he said.
Brown says in addition to replacing the memorial, they also want to raise awareness of the VFW post and what it does for area veterans.
Click here to visit the gofundme page