UPDATE: The Lebanon Police Department has arrested two men in connection to the incident. Click here for the update.
LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Lebanon Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating the person or people responsible for vandalizing headstones in Lebanon.
According to Lebanon police, over 150 headstone markers were vandalized overnight in the Cedar Grove and Wilson County Memorial cemeteries.
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Gary Jones has multiple relatives buried at Cedar Grove Cemetary. On Saturday, he found one of their graves had been toppled over.
“This was my uncle, my mother’s brother. He served in World War II,” Jones said. “He fought to save this country, for the freedom of this country, and people want to do this kind of damage. It’s totally absurd.”
Officials say the headstone markers were overturned and damaged during the act. At this time, the damage is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
“It’s just lack of respect because you have good faith that that’s the last place you’re going to see your loved one and it should be a place where you can have good memories and not see some type of vandalism or damage,” Cedar Grove Cemetary Manager Sam Crutcher said.
Damion Osteen was one of dozens of people who showed up Saturday to check on loved ones’ graves. His grandfather and friend are buried at Cedar Grove. Although their graves weren’t targeted, he was still hurt to see others destroyed.
“All you’re doing now is hurting their families. If you had some grudge against them or something that’s your own personal business, but vandalizing thier tombstones, thier memorials, the things that the families have to look forward to, it’s not right in the slightest,” Osteen said.
The graves of several Confederate vererans were knocked over during the vandalism.
“A lot of men who are buried here went out with full platoons, full squadrons, and I know a couple of the men that had their tombstones damaged were not ones that came back with a company,” Osteen said. “A lot of them were people the came back and they were sole survivors.”
Jones said he hopes whoever is responsible will be brought to justice soon.
“I know it’s fun, I know it’s just games to you or whatever, but it means a lot to a lot of people out here, and thier families and their forefathers. And this just is ridiculous. It’s totally ridiculous,” Jones said.
Lebanon police are offering a $1,000 reward for any information regarding the vandalism. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jeremy Johnson at 615-453-4337.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.