Brookhaven, NY – Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy for the destruction of a memorial to a fallen Navy SEAL, Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy.
Police said the teen was arrested at his Ronkonkoma home at about 3 a.m. on Friday morning by detectives from the Suffolk County Police Department’s fourth squad, Newsday reported.
A press release from the Suffolk County police said the boy was charged with second-degree criminal mischief, and that he would be arraigned in family court at a later date.
Police did not release the name of the juvenile they arrested, nor did they release any details about the crime or how investigators had determined who was responsible.
“If Michael was alive, what he would be doing is taking this child under his wing. And saying ‘look do you realize the significance of what this really means? It’s not about me and it’s not about Red Wings. It’s about the monument itself and how it defines the American culture,’” Lt. Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, explained at a gathering of friends and supporters in the memorial park on July 20.
“It is a symbol of America and our commitment to the men and women who are on the front lines,” he said.
Daniel Murphy thanked the police for their efforts in finding the vandals, and then announced that the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation would be adding a scholarship for the child of a Suffolk County police officer.
He said he had received calls from all over the world about the vandalism, with offers to help pay for replacing the memorial stone. And he said a local company has offered to donate cameras and a security setup for the new memorial once when it is installed.
The Serenity Plaza centerpiece memorial stone honoring Lt. Murphy and his sacrifice had been shattered into 13 pieces by vandals. The Patchogue native was the first member of the Navy awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and the first recipient to have served in Afghanistan.
The stone and surrounding brick and black granite memorial of Serenity Plaza sits on the shore of Lake Ronkonkoma, where Lt. Murphy once worked as a lifeguard and manager, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the state of New York would pay for the replacement of Lt. Murphy’s vandalized memorial, Newsday reported.
"I am appalled and disgusted by this apparent act of vandalism. The State of New York will fully fund the replacement of the plaque, and I hope this brings comfort to his family and community. The people of this state and this nation owe Lieutenant Murphy a debt of gratitude, and I personally thank him for his service,” the governor said in a statement, according to WABC.
The circular slab featured an etching of the uniformed lieutenant, who was part of a four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance mission deep behind enemy lines in the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, according to the Navy’s Medal of Honor website.
The team was scouting Ahmad Shah, the terrorist leader of a guerilla group aligned with the Taliban, when they were spotted by locals.
An estimated 50 enemy combatants attacked the SEALs from three sides, pushing the team further into a deep ravine.
Approximately 45 minutes into the gun battle, the team was pinned down and each member was severely wounded.
“Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates,” the Medal of Honor site read. “Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.”
As the enemy continued to fire at him, 29-year-old Lt. Murphy “calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team,” the military page recounted.
He momentarily dropped the transmitter when a bullet struck him in the back, but Lt. picked it back up, completed his transmission and returned to cover to continue fighting alongside his men until his death.
“By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of [Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus] Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle,” the Navy’s Medal of Honor website read.
For his heroic actions, Lt. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the Sachem Patch reported.
The plaza was dedicated as part of the Navy (SEAL) Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Park on May 7, 2008, according to the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization.