An early morning act of vandalism, on the eve of the July Fourth weekend, left veterans at a Massapequa American Legion post angry and scrambling to make repairs in time for a holiday reception.
Vandals early Friday damaged two white eagle-topped concrete columns at the entrance gate to the Veterans Memorial Garden at Post 1066, the largest in Nassau County, post commander Jack Hipp said.
One of the two roughly 4-foot columns, which Hipp said weighed at least 300 pounds, was knocked to the ground and the concrete eagle atop it was broken in two. The other column was knocked partially off its base but was still attached to the metal gate in front of the garden.
"To have this damage is utterly outrageous, hurtful and completely disrespectful," Hipp said.
Surveillance footage from the post shows the column knocked down just after 1:18 a.m. and then soon after what appears to be two men in T-shirts leaving the scene. A commuter at the nearby Massapequa Long Island Rail Road station witnessed the incident, Hipp, a retired NYPD detective, said.
Police said Friday evening a witness had seen a man pushing over one of the statues and shifting the second off its pedestal, damage valued at around $1,000. Ruling the incident criminal mischief, police said the suspects fled on foot northbound on Parkside Blvd.
Detectives were reviewing surveillance video footage. Anyone with information is asked to call the Seventh Squad at 516-573-6753 or Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS.
"This isn't mischief," King said. "It's an assault on the Massapequa community. It's an assault on the veterans."
Hipp said he was hopeful repairs would be completed by Sunday, when 50 to 60 of the post's nearly 600 members march in Massapequa's Fourth of July parade and then return to the hall for a reception.
Luckily, the contractor had the foresight to make an extra eagle when the columns were constructed in 2000, Hipp said.