Mount Vernon Police have arrested five juveniles between the ages of 14 and 17 on charges of Assault and Malicious Mischief (graffiti).
During the late night hours of April 14th and early morning hours of April 15th, at least 17 locations within the City of Mount Vernon were vandalized with blue spray painted graffiti – consistent with criminal street gang tagging. Locations included: Kulshan View Drive, North 26th Street, E. Stewart Road, Valley Mall Way, Rainbolt Place, Lincoln Elementary School, Arbor Street, Skagit Riverwalk Park and several others. The total damage estimate is $2,859.
On April 15th, Middle School Resource Officer Jon Gerondale was alerted to a video being shared on Snapchat showing a LaVenture Middle School student being assaulted by several subjects. Officer Gerondale was able to identify one of the assault suspects, and as the investigation developed he learned the assault suspects were linked to the graffiti spree.
Investigative leads were shared with Mount Vernon Police patrol staff and a vehicle of interest was located and impounded from an address on Stanford Drive. A search warrant was served on the vehicle, and officers located clothing and other items of evidence in both the assault and malicious mischief cases. An additional search warrant was served at a residence on N. 18th Street, where additional identifying clothing and other evidence was found.
Several search warrants were served on electronic devices, providing additional evidence linking the suspects to both the assault and graffiti investigations.
As a result, five juveniles have been arrested and charged with crimes including Assault 2nd Degree, Malicious Mischief 2nd Degree and Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Malicious Mischief 2nd Degree.
Over the past few years, incidents of criminal street gang graffiti and other vandalism in Mount Vernon has steadily declined. In 2015, the Juvenile Graffiti Work Program (a partnership between Juvenile Probation and Mount Vernon Parks & Enrichment Services) removed graffiti from 304 separate sites. In 2018, that number was down to 142 sites – a reduction of more than 50%.
This is due to the comprehensive efforts throughout our community to educate citizens on gang subculture, invest in our kids through programs and resources and by recognizing the importance of quickly addressing incidents of graffiti when they occur.
We all have a role in the reduction of crime and fear in our community, and only through the mutual understanding of our “shared responsibilities”, can we work collectively to insure our community remains healthy and safe.