Poteau Police Search For Suspect In Connection To Vandalized Veterans Memorial

POTEAU (KFSM) -- Police in Poteau are searching for the person or people who vandalized a well-known veterans memorial at a local cemetery.

The soldier that stand in the middle of Oakland Cemetery was vandalized the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, police said. There was damage done to the statue and other pieces of the memorial.

Police said the suspect or suspects probably took a knife and used their hands to rip off pieces of the statue, according to police. The statue was also stabbed multiple times and police said the vandals tried to take the M-16 rifle out of his hands.

Also ripped off were dog tags that lay beside the soldier along with a M-16 file, pair of boots and a helmet.

"They're looking at a serious fine and possible prison time," said Cpl. Brandon McDaniel. "If it turns out to be juveniles then the juvenile court will take over that."

The statue was donated by a private donor years ago and police said it could now be a total loss.

"The statue cost as much as $2,500 or $3,000," McDaniel said.

Police plan to talk to the private donor of the statue and see how they will replace the missing pieces.

"There's a lot of veterans in our area that like to go out there and it's too bad that someone decided they needed to take a piece of the soldier," McDaniel said.

Police said they don't have any leads yet, but anyone with information about the vandalism should call Poteau Police Department at (918) 647-8620.