$5,500 Reward Offered After New York Village's 9/11 Memorial Is Vandalized

Authorities say they are offering a $5,500 reward to find whoever is responsible for vandalizing a 9/11 memorial in a village in upstate New York.

The initial reward for $3,000 was increased to $5,5000 as authorities continue their investigation after a pole flying the American flag was knocked down overnight Tuesday at the 9/11 memorial site in Washingtonville, New York. The site commemorated the lives of five New York City firefighters from the small village who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

The memorial is located at Memorial Park and honors firefighters Mark Whitford, Bobby Hamilton and Gerry Nevins; Battalion Chief Dennis Devlin; and Lieutenant Glenn Perry.

Sergeant Ken Lopez of the Washingtonville Police Department told Newsweek on Friday that the FBI field office in New York City had offered to help with the investigation but the village hasn't requested its aid yet.

"The undertone in the community following the vandalism was one of disgust," Lopez said. "That flag stood over a memorial commemorating the lives of five firefighters from this community."

Lopez also said local residents voluntarily held vigils at the memorial site for two nights after the flagpole was cut down to make sure the area was kept safe from vandals.

Brian Zaccaro, chief of the Washingtonville Police Department, told the Times Herald-Record a tool was apparently used to cut through the pole, which toppled over, and a message was scrolled on the part of the pole that remained attached to the ground. Police have yet to release details of the message while the investigation is ongoing.

Village resident Joe Zaccaro told Spectrum News, a group of cable-TV channels, that news of the vandalism was heartbreaking.

"It was like a punch to the stomach.... I was just so upset, and I started getting a bunch of text messages and emails from a lot of people from our town," Zaccaro said.

After the vandalism was discovered, Washingtonville Mayor Joseph Bucco wrote in a Facebook message Wednesday that the police "will not leave any stone unturned" as they seek those responsible for the vandalism.

A Message from Village HallEarly this morning I was notified that the flagpole at Firemen’s Memorial Park was laying...

Posted by Village of Washingtonville on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"Our police department is in the process of collecting evidence," the mayor wrote. "Please be assured that whoever is responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law. Any help you can offer for the arrest and conviction please do not hesitate to contact the Washingtonville Police Department."

Bucco also said that an eagle figurine that sat on top of the flagpole was found at the Saint Mary's Church education center in the village. The entrance sign to the center was also destroyed.

On Thursday, the mayor also thanked three local residents on Facebook "for spending the night watching over the Firemen's Memorial" after locals went to the site to lay down American flags in honor of the firefighters.

Newsweek reached out to Bucco for further comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

9/11 Memorial NYC
The 9/11 memorial plaza in lower Manhattan on July 4. Authorities are offering a $5,500 reward for information after a 9/11 memorial in Washingtonville, New York, was vandalized. Spencer Platt/Getty