Nine persons charged in vandalism at Afton State ParkRivertowns Area News
-- Nine people face felony charges in connection with a booze-fueled spree of vandalism and property damage at Afton State Park after the sprawling, remote property in Denmark Township was shuttered because of the state government shutdown.
AFTON - Nine people face felony charges in connection with a booze-fueled spree of vandalism and property damage at Afton State Park after the sprawling, remote property in Denmark Township was shuttered because of the state government shutdown.
Washington County prosecutors last week filed charges of third-degree burglary and aiding and abetting first-degree property damage against nine adults.
The case drew broad attention in part because of its timing: the park was damaged over the July 4 weekend, when it would have been full of campers and visitors if not for the shutdown.
“If the place would have been open, I strongly suspect that this would not have occurred,” Sheriff Bill Hutton said.
Those charged in Washington County District Court are:
Malik A. Butler, 23; Abadir M. Daoued, 23; James J. Flagg, 20; Emily K. Miller, 20; Alexander B. Witso, 19; Ariel L. Neally, 19; John R. Scott, 18; Joseph B. Slater, 20; and David McLin, 20. All are from Rosemount except McLin, who lives in Apple Valley.
The criminal complaints allege widespread damage to the park’s main office and a camper cabin.
According to the charges:
A man who was driving in the park around 7 a.m. July 4 noticed a broken window on the main office building and computer equipment on the ground outside the entrance. He called authorities.
A sheriff’s deputy who responded to the park found the building had been forcibly entered, broken glass and computer modems on the ground. He saw a male hiding in the weeds nearby, later identified as Slater. He was taken into custody and had a preliminary blood-alcohol level of 0.12.
Three of the suspects were found in a vehicle that was stopped after traveling at a high rate of speed near the park entrance. Four suspects were found in a second vehicle, while three others were found walking in the park. One was found on a park bench.
The main park office building was “ransacked,” Hutton said. Items were strewn on the floor, a door was kicked in, computer equipment was taken from shelves and a large safe was partially blocking a door. A spotting scope valued at $2,000 was missing.
Two camper cabins were found damaged. Shingles were torn from a roof and porch stairs were removed and burned in a fire pit. There were burn marks on the cabin. Vandals wrote on a wall with permanent marker. A window screen and curtain rods were found smoldering in a fire. A table and part of a bunk bed had been burned.
In addition to the nine charged, two Twin Cities teenagers were ticketed for trespassing, being in the park after hours and for not having a park permit.
Also, a 17-year-old female from Inver Grove Heights could face juvenile charges of third-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, Hutton said.