Oceanside CA— In July of 2014, Oceanside Police were called to the 3800 block of Rosemary Way regarding vandalism (See story here). Three people were caught, on video surveillance cameras, spray painting obscenities on American Flags in the senior community. Today, the case has come to a close and the flags were returned to their owners during a brief ceremony at the Oceanside Police Department.
Three people were arrested in the case; Daniel Moran, Breanna Serrato and Ruben I. Jimenez. Moran and Serrato were sentenced to three years felony probation. Jimenez, who was already in jail for an unrelated incident received a 32 month prison sentence.
“These cases have run their course” said Oceanside Police Lieutenant Leonard Cosby, “Everybody has either pled guilty or has been found guilty.”
The Lieutenant said this is where the involvement of the police department usually ends. People are asked if they wish to have the evidence in police custody returned to them or disposed of. “But these are American Flags and American Flags have great meaning to people, sentimental value.” explained Lt. Cosby, whose oldest son is veteran, “I felt it would be appropriate and proper to have these flags retired.”
Chuck Atkinson, President and Founder of the Veterans Association of North County along with the victims of the vandalism were contacted, by Lt. Cosby, for setting up the proper flag retirement.
Michael Rank, whose video surveillance cameras were invaluable in the apprehension of the suspects in the flag vandalism, told the lieutenant “I just wanted to thank you for everything you did for us” as he was handed his flag to turn over for retirement. Mr. Rank said he was okay with the sentence handed down in the case but “ The only thing I was disappointed about was I wanted these three young people to realize what that flag means to veterans and citizens like myself.” Mr. Rank, as a former educator said he would have liked for them to spend some time with a group such as the Wounded Warriors Project “so they could see what people sacrificed so they could run around and spray paint buildings and have the freedom to do that.”
Nancy Conner told the lieutenant “I was astounded at how well I was kept in the loop for what I consider a minor infraction especially with what is going on in the world today.” continued Ms Conner, “ It gave me great confidence that if anything really terrible happened, I was in good hands.”
Oceanside Police Chief, Frank McCoy said “It disgusts me that we have people in our community that would lower themselves to a level and do that to the American Flag. Especially in a county and city where we have so many military personnel. “ continued the Chief “The fact that we are losing men and women who are fighting for this flag, that they would even think that it would be something that was reasonable to do in our community.”
Lieutenant Cosby said “it was only due to the diligence and tenacity of the members of the Oceanside Police Department, Scott Garrett( Detective), Taurino Valdovinos(Sergeant) and their people that this case came to fruition.” Detective Garrett added that the victims in this case were invaluable to the team effort in solving this case.
The flags will be retired during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Moose Lodge in Escondido. Mr. Atkinson said the flags will be burned, one at a time during the ceremony that also serves as an opportunity to honor our veterans.