HENDERSON, Ky. — A Henderson man has been arrested after he allegedly damaged more than 150 crosses in the downtown Memorial Day display with his vehicle early Saturday, according to officials.
Anthony Burrus, 27, was arrested in connection with the incident that took place in Central Park at around 6 a.m., according to Henderson Police Public Information Officer Jennifer Richmond. Roughly 160 crosses were knocked down and about 20 were destroyed.
The display in Central Park contains more than 5,000 crosses, each bearing the name of a Henderson resident who served in the military.
The vehicle Burrus was driving, a 1979 Ford Thunderbird, was found with pieces of a cross and ground stake embedded in the tires after he left it at the McDonald's restaurant on South Green Street. Richmond said Burrus denied causing the damage in the park, but confirmed he had been driving the vehicle and left it after it stopped working.
Henderson police officers and deputies from the Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident.
Burrus was found and arrested at his sister's apartment complex on Zion Road, and was being held at the Henderson County Detention Center. He is charged with first-degree criminal mischief and leaving the scene of an accident.
Richmond said a large number of tips, Facebook posts and vehicle searches helped officers make the connection and arrest Burrus.
Richmond said earlier on Saturday that the damage appeared to be deliberate because the driver had to jump the curb to get to the display. She said the incident took place shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday.
Members of the Henderson Fire Department, the WARM Center, and local residents joined members of the American Legion to repair the display.
"For somebody to do this to a veteran who gave his life, I don't understand. I don't have any words. I'm speechless," Jim Hanley, a member of the Legion, said Saturday morning.
Family members arrived to see if any of the crosses that bear the names of their relatives were damaged. Some arrived and were relieved to find certain crosses unharmed, while others were brought to tears by the damage.
Bob Dutton Sr.'s son, Robert K. Dutton, had a cross in his honor displayed in the park, and it was destroyed by the vandalism.
"I lost my son seven years ago, and this is so sad to know somebody would do this without thinking about the consequences," Dutton said.
Kathy Tigue has lost three brothers who served in the Armed Forces, one of whom died in March. While the crosses in their honor were not damaged, she felt the sting that other families were feeling Saturday morning.
"This is heartbreaking," Tigue said. "How could someone be so cruel, so heartless is beyond me. God help whoever did it. It hurts these people who have worked so hard."
Each cross costs around $90, Richmond said. The display is cared for in conjunction with the American Legion Worsham Post No. 40 and the Henderson War Memorial Foundation.
As members of the community continued to file into Central Park, Hanley said he was reminded of the significance of the display. He said the Legion and other organizations will work to make sure all of the damaged crosses are either replaced or repaired by Memorial Day.
"This town loves their veterans, and this is proof," he said, gesturing to the crowd. "We take care of each other around here, and this situation is no different."