FAIRFAX, Va. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Virginia man who believes the Sandy Hook school shootings were a hoax has been charged in the theft of two memorial signs in New Jersey and Connecticut – both dedicated to child victims of those shootings, police said Friday.
Andrew Truelove, 28, who was renting a room in Herndon, Virginia, was charged in Fairfax County with possession of stolen property, Herndon police said.
Police said the blue and purple vinyl signs, one depicting a peace sign, were stolen from playgrounds in Mystic, Connecticut, and Mantoloking, New Jersey. They were dedicated to Grace McDonnell and Chase Kowalski, two of the 20 first-graders killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
At a news conference, Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said Truelove does not believe the Sandy Hook shootings actually occurred.
“It’s hard to explain the `why’ because from our perspective it doesn’t appear rational,” DeBoard said.
In Mystic earlier this month, someone took the 50-pound vinyl peace sign dedicated to Grace McDonnell from the playground where it was mounted.
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.
Grace personally designed the peace sign that disappeared.
Well-wishers in Connecticut responded to the theft by putting up dozens of handmade signs, many with depictions of hearts and peace signs.
DeBoard said Truelove has a history of criminal behavior involving kids and that he is banned from school property in Fairfax County. Court records show a variety of charges against him in recent years, including trespassing, disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
A lawyer who is representing him in an ongoing, unrelated case, Suzanne Hruby, said Friday night that she is unfamiliar with the new charges and declined to comment.
Truelove was being held in the Fairfax County jail. DeBoard said grand larceny charges are pending against him in Connecticut and New Jersey.
Herndon police said they acted on a tip they received from police in Stonington, Connecticut earlier in the week.
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