SOMERVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) - Police are working to identify a person of interest after an Arlington man claims to have witnessed a man urinating on multiple American flags at the Somerville Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Monday.
George Gatteny says he was stopped behind a bus on Broadway near Clarendon Station when he saw two people near a memorial statue, including a man who he claims urinated on four miniature American flags that were torn out of the ground.
“He undid his pants, took himself out and started urinating on the flags,” he told 7News.
Gatteny, shocked by what he was witnessing, got out of his car and confronted the man. He says the suspect laughed in his face and walked off with a woman.
An outraged Gatteny shared several images of the soaked flags and vandalized statue on social media. The post has since gone viral.
“I was surprised. That’s the first time I ever posted anything like that,” he said. “I figured we would get a little bit of activity. I had no idea that it was going to be this viral.”
Gatteny’s 81-year-old father happens to be a war veteran and is upset by the incident.
“I have no idea what would make him do it,” George Gatteny Sr. said. “People do crazy things for crazy reasons.”
Somerville police confirmed in a statement that they are looking into the alleged act.
“The Somerville Police Department is investigating the removal and defilement of American Flags planted in the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, and the desecration of the Veteran’s Monument to those who gave their lives in World War 2 in defense of their country,” the statement read.
The department is also working to identify a person of interest in connection with the incident.
Police released the following photo of the individual in question:
Anyone who can identify the man is asked to contact police at 617-625-1600.
A Good Samaritan has since stopped by the cemetery to replace the flags.
“I felt like it was my duty to come by here and replace those flags,” Al Haley said. “I love this country.”
An investigation is ongoing.
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