Lightning strike? Vandalism? Ohio mayor says 'we may never know' what destroyed George Floyd mural

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A mural honoring George Floyd collapsed into rubble Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio, after authorities told local media outlets lightning hit it.

Toledo's mayor offered less certainty when reached by USA TODAY. The city will work with Toledo's arts commission and the artist to replace the mural, "so that the message at the core of this artwork can be heard," Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said in a statement.

“We may never know for certainty why the George Floyd mural came down. It could have been an act of nature, or it could have been an act of vandalism,” Kapszukiewicz said. "What we do know is that the mural will be replaced."

Toledo artist David Ross echoed Kapszukiewicz. He promised to "do it over, bigger and better."

A witness told Toledo Fire and Rescue that the wall on which the mural was painted fell after a lightning bolt struck the building, according to WZZM-TV. The department told the station the lightning strike was the cause of the collapse.

The Toledo Police Department told WTVG-TV that witnesses reported the mural was destroyed by lightning, and the station's doppler radar showed a lightning strike in the area early Tuesday evening.

There were thunderstorms in the Toledo Metro area between 4 and 5 p.m. Tuesday, and those storms contained "frequent lightning strikes," the National Weather Service confirmed.

Ross learned his mural had been destroyed when another artist called him and said it looked like a bomb went off. When he drove to what used to be the mural, he saw the bricks he painted in blues and reds scattered on the ground.

Ross wasn't surprised, he told USA TODAY.

"I was always prepared for that moment," he said. "I always knew it might come down."

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The mural has served as a venue for memorial services in honor of Floyd, whose murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin prompted protests and calls to reexamine systemic racism across the country.

Ross faced backlash on social media after finishing the mural. People made sometimes-threatening comments about how the piece should be taken down or should never had been painted, Ross said. Others called Floyd a criminal or said he deserved to die, he added.

When the mural became rubble, Ross said he saw some people rejoicing on social media and calling the lightning strike an act of God.

Ross said the destruction could have been caused by lightning, but due to the backlash he's gotten, he's skeptical.

At this point, it doesn't matter, he said.

"Lightning could strike it down again, and I'd be out there again," he said.

Minutes after the mural came down, Ross noticed people taking photos of a double rainbow in the sky. He decided he would incorporate the rainbow into the next mural.

"I felt like that was a sign of a new beginning," he said.

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd mural in Toledo crumbles after possible lightning strike