Police Close to Arrest in Red Rock Vandalism - 8 News NOW

Police Close to Arrest in Red Rock Vandalism

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LAS VEGAS -- A week after hikers at Red Rock Canyon discovered graffiti sprayed over prehistoric rock art and petroglyphs, the search for people responsible has turned up a 17-year-old suspect.

Las Vegas police are processing a warrant and an arrest should happen shortly. But the Bureau of Land Management says now is not the time to breath easy. They are calling on everyone who enjoy the land to be the first line of defense against another incident.

The conservation area is about 200,000 acres of scenic space patrolled by four park rangers.

"We certainly try to manage it the best we can for them, but we can't manage it as well as the people themselves," said BLM spokesperson Kirsten Cannon.

Members of a tagging group with the moniker NHC used maroon paint to mark pictographs said to be from the Paiute Indians in a remote rock area. Accessibility and exposure of the rock make it a target for vandalism.

Red Rock visitor Ed Mutchnik is disgusted by the desecration. He's now committed to keeping a close watch for anyone suspicious.

"If I see somebody looking like they're going to do something wrong , I'll probably keep an eye on them," he said. "I wouldn't necessarily apprehend them because that could be dangerous."

The BLM agrees and says enforcement is best from afar.

"If they see people out with spray paint, if they see people picking things up, make note of that. If they happen to be by the persons vehicle, casually make note of the persons license plate," said Cannon.

While site stewards and other volunteers help monitor the grounds, the BLM stresses strength in numbers.

"The BLM is a steward of the public land but we rely on the public to love their land and treat it with respect," said Cannon.

Mutchnik says public ownership will protect this historical treasure.

"Take only pictures, leave only footprints," he said.

Metro says more than one person is believed to be responsible for the taggings and is still asking for information anyone might have. As for the person soon to be arrested, he faces federal charges of up to five years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

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