A man is facing charges in connection with a vandalism spree this week that left American flags, statues and gravestones badly damaged at a cemetery and memorial park in Stoughton, Massachusetts.
Photos shared by Stoughton police show a damaged statue at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery as well as American flags with circles cut out of them.
Police said an off-duty officer reported witnessing the man cutting down a prisoner-of-war flag at Faxon Veterans Memorial Park, Monday. Authorities identified the suspect as 37-year-old Uenes De Almeida, who was believed to be responsible for the vandalism at the cemetery.
Officers charged De Almeida with three counts of vandalizing a gravestone; vandalizing a war or veteran’s memorial; removing a grave marker and two counts of malicious destruction of property. Police decided against arresting the man, citing their mental health training.
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“We have learned we cannot arrest our way out of the problem,” the police department said on Facebook. “We can only hope there are mental health professionals that will commit to relentless follow up for people who need it the most.”
Authorities are working to find items missing as a result of the vandalism, “no matter how damaged they may be.” The department is working with the Veteran’s Agent to find a respectful way to dispose of the damaged American Flags.