Sheriff Authorities: Suspect Not Part of Any White Supremacy Groups
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Many local residents have sounded complaints about seeing local real estate and political signs vandalized.
The incidents raised the ire of citizens because the graffiti consisted of what appeared to be swastikas.
After a month-long investigation that was started and finished by a patrol deputy, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office arrested Michael O’Brien on felony charges of criminal mischief, bias-motivated crimes, second-degree criminal trespass, and a misdemeanor harassment charge.
According to Teller County Sheriff Commander Greg Couch, the patrol deputy first responded to a call about graffiti on a real estate sign located in Colorado Mountain Estates just south of Florissant. After several other signs within that subdivision were spray painted, the vandalism started appearing elsewhere in the county. The vandal struck signs alongside Teller County Road One and in the middle of the town of Florissant.
Early this month it was then reported that several political signs advertising county commissioner candidates also got vandalized in the town. The deputy stayed on the case and investigated the scenes of the other vandalism incidents. After reviewing video camera footage from several businesses in the area, the deputy was able to link all of the incidents to a single vehicle.
Once identifying the suspect’s car, the local sheriff deputies were able to link all of the vandalism cases to O’Brien. The investigators were able to gather enough evidence to make an arrest without even having to get a search or arrest warrant.
According to Couch, the suspect’s purpose was not an attack aimed at the owners of the signs he vandalized. “He made some statements that kind of indicated that he didn’t have an issue with the political signs versus the real estate signs,” the commander explained. “He had issues with the signs themselves and not necessarily with the people connected to those signs. We don’t have any information that any candidate for political office was targeted specifically.”
O’Brien was arrested on March 6 and booked into Teller County Jail with a $3,000 bond. According to the jail website, the suspect posted bail and was released from jail shortly after his arrest.
Couch also said that the sheriff’s office doesn’t have any information suggesting that O’Brien was part of a white supremacist gang or any similar type of organization, and they do not know why he chose to specifically paint swastikas. The commander did say that the case was still under investigation, but that the sheriff’s office did not believe that anyone else helped or contributed to the vandalism other than O’Brien.