On June 19, Patterson Police Detective Casey Hill said the initial tally of damages is $2,160 on at least 90 different cleanup locations over a six-week graffiti spree. Patterson Police are recommending felony vandalism charges for the incidents. Patterson Police also believe Patterson Unified School District was hit with graffiti by 23 year-old Shawn Michael Gulick and 21 year-old Justin Allen Lavender, both of Patterson. At least one of the men has admitted to graffiti, according to Hill.
A city employee, whose has asked to be unidentified for fear of retribution for removing the taggers’ work, said he slipped and fell in the Patterson Skate Park cleaning up the graffiti, breaking his shoulder clavicle and tearing his left bicep. He said it was the fifth time in a month he’d tried to clean up the skate park’s main bowl of graffiti.
Damage assessments were not yet available for the school district, according to Hill.
Though the case has been filed with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, it has been returned to police for further follow-up investigation, according to Deputy District Attorney Alan Cassidy.
“We’re asking for more information,” Cassidy said. “I wouldn’t say a felony is common in graffiti cases.”
Cassidy wasn’t sure whether the case would be filed as a felony—a more serious crime—or a misdemeanor, which is less serious.
Gulick and Lavender were booked into Stanislaus County Jail May 28 in Modesto on suspicion of felony vandalism. Graffiti vandalism causing more than $400 worth of damage is considered a felony. They have since been released.
The apprehension was part of an effort by community members that included former Councilwoman Annette Smith, Patterson resident Teri Davis, Mayor Luis Molina and former council candidate Dennis McCord. The four started staking out common locations for the graffiti taggers May 24. After no success that Friday, Smith and Davis again set out Saturday night to find the taggers the following night, and when they spotted taggers near American Eagle Parkway and Ward Avenue, called police.
According to Hill, the taggers have hit up the Patterson Skate Park, the community pool, palm trees across from Las Palmas School and fences throughout the Heartland Ranch housing development in western Patterson.
Hill said the investigation will continue into the graffiti, and whether the charges are filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, the city is seeking to recoup the costs of the graffiti abatement.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or email@example.com.