RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A 14-year-old boy has been arrested for smashing a memorial in Lake Ronkonkoma dedicated to a fallen Navy SEAL from Long Island.
Police investigators say the youth was arrested at his Ronkonkoma home at 3 a.m. on Friday. He was charged with second-degree criminal mischief and was scheduled to be arraigned in family court on a later date.
The stone centerpiece in Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Park in Lake Ronkonkoma was vandalized on Thursday, discovered broken into pieces.
“I lost Mike, and then when I saw that I felt I lost him again,” and Maureen Murphy, the soldier’s mother.
Murphy, of Patchogue, became the first American awarded the Medal of Honor during the Afghanistan War, when he was killed along with two fellow Navy SEALs during an ambush in 2005. He was 29.
Lt. Murphy’s memorial was a labor of love built at Lake Ronkonkoma by local volunteers who sought to mark their native son’s bravery, courage and selflessness, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Community leaders took to social media asking for leads after the vandalism was discovered.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was “appalled and disgusted” by the vandalism. Cuomo says the state will pay to replace the memorial.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone expressed compassion toward the unnamed youth police are saying was responsible.
“A minor probably didn’t realize the significance of what he was doing,” he said. “I hope this is a teachable moment.”
“Michael would have taken this kid under his wing to teach him what a war hero is,” said Vicent Calvosa of the NAvy SEAL Museum.
In addition to memorials around Suffolk County, a 510-foot destroyer is named after Murphy and the movie “Lone Survivor” outlining the the final hours of his life in Afghanistan.
“Michael has become more a symbol — he’s our son, but he’s more a symbol — of our military men and women, and our first responders — fire, police — that are out there every day protecting us,” his father, Daniel Murphy, said.