US man charged with painting swastikas on cemetery headstones

2018-05-30 16:38
Grave markers with swastikas spray-painted on them stand in the Sunset Hill Cemetery in in Glen Carbon, Illinois. (Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Grave markers with swastikas spray-painted on them stand in the Sunset Hill Cemetery in in Glen Carbon, Illinois. (Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

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A man in the US state of Illinois was charged with hate crimes and other criminal offenses after swastikas were found spray-painted on hundreds of headstones in a cemetery.

Some 200 graves were defaced with swastikas drawn with black spray paint between Friday night and early on Saturday morning at the Sunset Hills Cemetery in Glen Carbon, a small community near the city of St Louis.

The vandalism occurred as the country was entering the Memorial Day holiday weekend, which commemorates fallen American veterans. About 1 300 veterans are buried at the nondenominational cemetery.

Black-and-white security video captured the alleged vandal's image, and police arrested 34-year-old Timothy McLean.

McLean was charged with a host of criminal offences, including four hate crimes charges for the cemetery vandalism and additional vandalism on homes in a nearby community, police said.

No motive was given for his actions.

"We haven't seen anything of this magnitude in the 30 years that I've been here," cemetery groundskeeper Mark Johnson told local TV station KMOV.

Volunteers and cleanup crews restored the cemetery prior to a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, and planted American flags to honour the service members buried there.

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