Two arrested in Richton park vandalism, more could come - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Two arrested in Richton park vandalism, more could come

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

RICHTON, MS (WDAM) - Richton town workers were out at the Richton Recreation park Monday doing some remedial landscaping, this after some vandals did some landscaping of their own.

"That was a slap in the town of Richton's face and to it's people. That park is for everyone," said Mayor Bo Ruffin.

It happened sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning when Mayor Ruffin says vandals ran over more than 30 trees, downed about ten fiberglass light poles, destroyed a bike rack, garbage cans and two volleyball nets, all adding up anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000  in damage.

"It's just mind boggling somebody would do something of that nature. What was the purpose?," said Mayor Ruffin.

That's exactly what Police Chief Bryan Walley and the rest of the town want to know as well.

"It's very aggravating that somebody would do something like this," said Walley.

At this point Chief Walley says due to the investigation he's unable to release any details or confirm reports of a tractor being used in the crime. He does confirm two arrests, one a juvenile from Richton, the other, a man from petal. Chief Walley says more arrests are possible and this type of crime will not be tolerated.

"This has never happened, to my knowledge, in Richton, but it certainly can happen anywhere, it could happen again, but we're going to try our best to combat that," said Walley.

The hope is for some of the trees to be salvageable banking on the resilience of plants, but for some, of course, that won't be the case and the town will have to start again, and that's just what they're prepared to do.

The park was funded through grants, matched with taxpayer money. Ever since it was built about ten years ago Mayor Ruffin says it's been a place of pride and energy.

"Some Saturdays we can have 100, 150 people in the park," said Ruffin.

As Mayor Ruffin continues to survey the damage he says he can't help but to be outright mad.

"Those who engage in destructive behavior, we will catch you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," said Ruffin. "We will not allow a few to destroy what many enjoy, I will assure them that we will put our park back."

Copyright 2010 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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