Teen accused of defacing 9/11 memorial

June 3, 2008 11:33:29 AM PDT
Police on Tuesday arrested a teenager accused of writing graffiti on a mural dedicated to Sept. 11 victims that was painted on the wall of a neighborhood bodega. The 17-year-old suspect, who used the tag name "SIPS," was charged with criminal mischief and making graffiti, police said. The memorial was tagged with silver, red and white paint on May 19.

The mural was painted by a local artist and was bright blue with the phrase "God Bless America," a rendering of the twin towers and a portrait of neighborhood firefighter Peter Bielfeld, who died during the 2001 terrorist attack.

The Citywide Vandals Task Force, a unit that specializes in graffiti, and the local Bronx precinct worked together to investigate.

Officers canvassed the area after the graffiti was painted, offered rewards and were able to come up with the last name of the suspect and an address, police said.

The community had been outraged by the defacing of the mural. The artist plans to restore it with funds from the neighborhood precinct, community members and the firehouse where Bielfeld worked.