MYSTIC, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Area residents were shocked Friday, after vandals not just stole a memorial to a child lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but also called a victim’s mother and taunted her.
As CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon reported, the playground in Mystic, Conn., was dedicated to Grace McDonnell, one of the 20 first-graders killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn.
On Tuesday, someone took the 50-pound vinyl peace sign from the playground. Police said someone called Grace’s mother and claimed to have the sign, and also claimed that the shooting never happened.
Grace personally designed the peace sign that disappeared this week. And just last week, someone vandalized a playground in Hartford dedicated to Newtown victim Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.
“The goodness of people built this, and then someone has the audacity to come and steal (it),” said Skip Medbury of Old Mystic.
Police confirmed that a man claiming to be the person who took the sign called the McDonnell family in Newtown and told them what he did. He went on to claim the shooting was all a hoax.
“It’s appalling. It’s just wrong; sad. They’re trying to do something nice… it’s too bad,” said parent Karen Bates.
“What makes somebody do something like that?” said parent Enza Vignato. “This is something nice for the community.”
The area along the waterfront near the YMCA in Mystic was made into a playground last year. It was one of 26 coming to areas affected by Superstorm Sandy, and dedicated to the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
William of the Sandy Ground Project was shocked that someone would take the sign with such a motive.
“It’s sad there are ignorant people who have to show their hatred in a place that was built by a community that shared and expressed their love for the family’s in Newtown that witnessed evil,” Lavin said in a statement.
Lavin said a replacement has been ordered. That is easy enough, but it is hard for neighbors to understand why there are people out there — known colloquially as “truthers” — who insist the school shooting was some sort of hoax.
“You can’t stop ignorant people,” Medbury said. “You never know who they are.”
But the area residents do know the pain must be very real for little Grace’s mom, Lynn, this Mother’s Day weekend.
Each playground is unique to each of the victims to which they are dedicated.
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