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Tue., Oct. 6
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Massena teens charged with spray painting statues of Mary and Baby Jesus


MASSENA - An 18-year-old Massena man is being held on $5,000 cash bail after he and four other teenagers went on a spray painting binge Wednesday evening.

Village police charged Zachary M. Pitts of 224 Center St., Massena, with five felony counts of third-degree criminal mischief, five counts of making graffiti and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

A 14-year-old male was charged with four counts of third-degree criminal mischief and four counts of making graffiti. His case was turned over to the probation department for petitioning to St. Lawrence County Family Court.

Pitts was arraigned by Massena Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson Thursday morning, and bail was set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond. He is tentatively scheduled to return to court on Tuesday. Pitts told the court he would be seeking assigned counsel, and family members in court for the arraignment said they were unable to post bail.

Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said the investigation is continuing, and more arrests are pending. “We do expect to make additional arrests or petitions to Family Court,” he noted.

Court documents indicate Pitts and another male were joined by three 14 year olds - two females and a male - when they left Dollar General with two cans of spray paint - one red, one black.

They allegedly painted graffiti on the cement wall in front of Pine Grove Cemetery, spray painted the offices of David Leary, added art work to stops signs on Sycamore Street and Cornell Avenue and then spray painted the faces of Mary and the Baby Jesus on a statue in the gazebo near St. Mary’s Church.

“Zach said, ‘I’m gonna paint me a Negro, and he painted the baby’s face black,” a 14-year-old, with his mother present for the interview, said in a statement he provided to police, “and I painted the Mary statue. I painted the eyes red.”

Pitts took responsibility for painting the word snitch on the front porch at the George Arcet residence, 90 Woodlawn Ave. “I used to live next door to them people over on Sycamore Street and in the past they called the cops on me and that is why I spray painted snitch on their porch,” Pitts said in a statement he signed for police.

The Massena man said the group then split up, and he eventually went home, where he said he tried to hide the black spray paint can under the front porch. “... apparently it didn’t work very well. This is all very stupid, and I am very sorry,” he told police.

Mr. Currier described the incident as a real lapse in judgment and decency. “From time to time we see this type of behavior, and it is typically associated with teenagers,” he said.

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