Police in Lafayette, La., have arrested a 35-year-old local artist and charged him with vandalizing a 9/11 memorial that includes metal beams from New York's demolished World Trade Center.
The monument — which also includes limestone from the Pentagon and soil from the Shanksville, Pa., field where United Flight 93 went down — was defaced with cardboard artwork depicting planes crashing into the towers. There was also a cardboard cutout of former President George W. Bush holding a fistful of cash and a radio control, according to a report from the Advertiser.
The cardboard planes featured the letters NWO, a reference to the New World Order, a conspiracy-minded group that believes the 9/11 attacks were secretly orchestrated by the U.S. government.
Police investigating the vandalism were reportedly able to determine the suspect in part due to the cartoonish style of the artwork.
Salvador Perez, 35, was charged with criminal trespassing and damaging a historic building.
In a statement, Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit expressed his disappointment "that someone would deface Lafayette’s 9/11 Memorial in such a way as to dishonor the people and the first responders who lost their lives protecting this nation."
Locals interviewed by The Associated Press expressed dismay and outrage.
Madison Reviere called the stunt "crazy." She continued, "I don't see why you would even put up the work and actually climb."
Cpl. Paul Moton of the Lafayette Police Department told the AP, "For someone to deface that, to me, that's pretty horrific."