CPD makes arrest in cemetery vandalism


Columbia Police have arrested a man in connection to vandalism at a cemetery overnight Saturday into Sunday.

Early Monday morning, Columbia Police say they arrested 24-year old Justin Scott Beach and charged him with vandalizing graves/burial grounds.

The vandalism occurred at Greenlawn Memorial Park off Leesburg Road, according to several tweets from the Columbia Police Department Sunday.

Crimestoppers: Someone damaged multiple headstone vases & flowers at Greenlawn Memorial Park overnight/early this morning. pic.twitter.com/NhJ2hAREGa

— Cola Police Dept. SC (@ColumbiaPDSC) July 2, 2017

Grave markers and headstone vases to more than 100 grave sites were damaged. Flowers were shredded, vases were dislodged and American flags that had been placed on veterans’ graves were strewn throughout the cemetery.

Damage done? An estimated $10K worth. Who would destroy items at a final resting place? Call 1-888-CRIME-SC with tips. pic.twitter.com/Jgdh19SY6a

— Cola Police Dept. SC (@ColumbiaPDSC) July 2, 2017

Vandalism address: 845 Leesburg Road. Not one specific area at Greenlawn Memorial Park was targeted. Appears to be more scattered. pic.twitter.com/huKXbCniiq

— Cola Police Dept. SC (@ColumbiaPDSC) July 2, 2017

Cemetery manager Suzanne Elkins tells WIS at least a dozen families went there after church Sunday morning to find their loved ones’ graves damaged. She said the vandals caused about $15,000 in damage.

“How stupid, I mean is this what you guys think of doing on a weekend night, really? I know that sounds odd but why a cemetery?” Elkins asked. “There’s nothing to steal and nothing worth value except families’ precious memories, their loved ones are here. It’s just nonsense.”

“We are deeply saddened by the destruction and vandalism that occurred in our cemetery this weekend, said Elkins. “We wish to assure our families that we are fully committed to restoring the park and bringing the gravesites back to their dignified and respectable standards.”

“I just couldn’t say nothing but wow,” said Tina Ravnell of Columbia. “But I hurried up and came to see if it was my dad’s grave or something.”

Cemetery crews and families spent most of Sunday cleaning up the damage. Elkins said security cameras and additional lighting will be installed. She also said the cemetery will pay for all costs of repairs. A cookout is next Saturday at the cemetery for families of the vandalized graves to select items to place and to thank the community for its help cleaning up. The cookout is from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Families may visit the cemetery for replacement items from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Beach was taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

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