By Ed Runyan
Police have filed criminal charges against 35-year-old Miami resident Kurtis Aguilera, charging him with vandalizing some of the art in David Grohl Alley. Now, they have to locate him.
Police say they got help from the public after surveillance video was released purportedly showing Aguilera spray-painting about 10 paintings and a steel sculpture in the downtown alley early Saturday.
Joseph O’Grady, a former Warren police officer who got the alley started, said there’s no way to place a price tag on the amount of damage that was done, but one of the best-loved pieces was destroyed.
Police filed one felony-vandalism charge in Warren Municipal Court on Friday for the damage to the alley and a misdemeanor criminal-damaging charge for the graffiti on buildings and other structures throughout the city.
The vandalism is a felony because of the dollar amount of damage to the artwork. Other charges are possible. The felony charge carries possible prison time.
Anyone with information on Aguilera’s whereabouts should call Warren police at 330-394-2521.
Police discovered that Aguilera “tagged” at least 15 locations with graffiti during the past month. They also found a surveillance image from the Elm Road Giant Eagle purportedly showing Aguilera attempting to steal beer.
An employee stopped him, took the beer and let him go, Lt. Jeff Cole of the Warren Police Department said.
Cole said police don’t know if Aguilera, who apparently has relatives in Warren, is still in the area. One of the tagging incidents occurred within the past couple of days.
Tagging involves painting images in public places. The images often contain characteristics identifying the image as having come from a specific person.
Most of Aguilera’s purported tagging contains the word “Jeen” and the word “Sat.” O’Grady and Cole said they don’t know what the messages mean or why Aguilera would have wanted to destroy the artwork.
Using a site on social media, police discovered that Aguilera also tagged locations in Miami and San Francisco, Cole said.
The Miami-Dade Police Department’s gangs and graffiti unit provided Warren police with a jail mug of Aguilera and other information, Cole said. Aguilera’s booking mug indicated he was arrested in Miami in 2010 for resisting arrest.
Warren Councilman John Brown told The Vindicator he saw Aguilera “tagging” a garbage receptacle on Woodland Avenue Northeast before the spray-painting in the alley and confronted him about it. Brown got close enough to see Aguilera’s face, Brown said.
Brown said he knew Aguilera’s last name because of the house Aguilera went to while Brown was following him. He also got the Florida license-plate number of the car Aguilera was driving, Brown said.
Grohl, who played drums for Nirvana and is now front man for the Foo Fighters, was born in Warren while his family lived in Niles. His father, Jim Grohl, lives in Howland.
Grohl played a short concert on Courthouse Square for the dedication of the alley in 2009 and has been seen visiting the alley on trips home, O’Grady said.
Grohl called O’Grady when he learned about the vandalism. O’Grady said he told Grohl, “You knew it was going to happen.”
An “erase/replace” cleanup and fundraiser will take place in the alley from noon to 4 p.m. next Saturday. Restoration experts are being invited that day to advise artists on what can be done to restore the paintings.