Patterson Police Detective Casey Hill said Tuesday, May 28 that Justin Allen Lavender, 21, of Patterson and Shawn Michael Gulick, 23, were apprehended shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday after former Councilwoman Annette Smith and Patterson resident Teri Davis spotted the two painting on a fence outside of the FDES Hall.
Davis said she and Smith saw the taggers in action.
“It was awesome. We parked about five houses away from them on M Street,” she said. “I got the description, and (Smith) called it in.”
The two were booked into Stanislaus County Jail in Modesto on suspicion of felony vandalism. Graffiti vandalism causing more than $400 worth of damage is considered a felony.
Hill, who was busy tallying up all of the damage since late April from the tagging Tuesday, said the men have caused more than $1,000 worth of damage. 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.
“It’s definitely in the felony realm of vandalism,” he said.
The apprehension was part of an effort by community members that included Smith, Davis, Mayor Luis Molina and former council candidate Dennis McCord. The four started staking out common locations for the graffiti taggers Friday, May 24. After no success Friday, Smith and Davis again set out Saturday night to find the taggers.
“We didn’t invest in this community to have it look like the ghetto,” Smith said Tuesday, May 28. “The public can assist police by observing and reporting. (Police) can’t be everywhere and do everything.”
Molina said it was a well-coordinated effort, with Smith assembling the volunteers after talking with the mayor last week about doing something to stop the tagging.
“It’s one of those things that starts with a conversation,” Molina said. “There was a lot of concern over what these taggers were doing.”
Hill lauded Smith and Molina for coming together to take care of the problem.
“It’s great to see citizens come together to stop crime,” he said. “It was nice to see them come together to help the city.”
Davis — who describes herself as a “skater mom” — said the volunteers want the taggers to realize there are people who love Patterson.
“I moved to Patterson in 2009, and we were all pretty upset when they hit the skate park,” she said. “They’ll know not to mess with Patterson moms in the future.”
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.