ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. - Two heavy, bronze statues of soldiers, a massive globe, and numerous plaques have been stolen from the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial. It's a normally quiet park along Black Shoals Lake in Rockdale County, and a place for the community to reflect on the sacrifices of our nation's veterans.
" It's heart wrenching for me." says Walk of Heroes board member, Darin Riggs." When I came here [Monday] it was like coming to a funeral.
The thieves left a mess of debris in the heart of the park where the statues once stood. The park closes nightly at 7 p.m., but the vandals were able to break through the gate.
"And we don't see how they could've carried items off," says Rockdale County Sheriff Office's Sgt. Tijuana Harris.
This is considered one of the community's crown jewels. A joint project between the county and the non-profit Walk of Heroes. The chairman of the county board of commissioners wants to find ways to keep vandals out of the park once it closes.
" We're going to put some measures in place," says Chair Oz Nesbitt." This is certainly a wakeup call for county government."
The theory going around is this was not just about vandalism, but someone looking to make money at a scrap yard.
"They'll get a few hundred dollars and we have to spend thousands, high thousands to replace it," says Walk of Heroes board member, Bob Atkinson.
"My wife asked me last night,' what do you want for Christmas? 10 minutes with the guys that did this, and I'm not a violent person, but can I get my 10 minutes, please?" says Riggs.
Atkinson says he's determined to find the good in a bad situation. He's hoping the attention will quickly bring in donations to replace items, repair damage and continue with plans to expand the project.
To learn more, go to the Walk of Heroes website: walkofheroes.org.