Social media sleuths helped authorities catch the person responsible for leaving graffiti on a trail at a national park in Utah.
Michigan photographer Joe Braun was hiking on Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park on Saturday when he came across a rock that had been tagged with graffiti.
The vandal drew a giant heart on the rock with the words ‘Teena + Spencer 2018’. Above the heart were the words ‘A+N Zion 2018’.
A second heart had been etched on the rock with, ‘A + H 2018 Zion’. The name ‘Alex’ was also scrawled in small letters on the rock.
When Braun realized the graffiti was done in permanent marker and couldn’t easily come off, he became outraged and gave the graffiti the middle finger while he snapped a picture and posted it on his Facebook page.
‘Please pardon my vulgar hand gesture, but this is how I feel about people who vandalize our national parks,’ he wrote. ‘Graffiti like this is illegal and unwanted, and permanent marker takes a fair amount of professional effort to remove.’
It didn’t take long for social media users to track down the man responsible for leaving the graffiti. He did, after all, leave his Instagram handle ‘SuspenceFitness’ scrawled on the rock next to the giant heart.
Amid the backlash, the vandal turned himself in to authorities. He also deleted his Facebook and Instagram pages, but KSL.com reports that the man had posted another photo of him tagging another section of the national park with his Instagram name. In the caption of the photo, the man wrote ‘I had to.’
A spokesman for Zion National Park told the outlet that the person who wrote on the rock is working with park officials to repair the damage. The park is not releasing his name until the investigation is complete.
‘This is very serious to us, and we are taking action,’ spokesman John Marciano said. ‘The good thing is, he is cooperating. He’s taken full responsibility, and that’s great.’
The vandal reportedly apologized in a since-deleted Instagram post, writing: ‘I’m so so so so so sorry about this. I am contacting the park to help with the situation. I did not mean to cause any harm and I obviously was not thinking’
The man reportedly apologized for the incident in a since-deleted Instagram post, writing: ‘I’m so so so so so sorry about this. I am contacting the park to help with the situation. I did not mean to cause any harm and I obviously was not thinking.’
According to KSL.com, the park sent a crew to clean up Angel’s Landing. Usually vandals are charged a fine and are required to pay restitution for the cost of removing the graffiti.
Criminal and civil penalties are pending.
‘Park law enforcement appreciate the tips that have poured in and hope that this incident will serve as a deterrent to anyone else contemplating vandalizing one of America’s treasures,’ Marciano said.