Apr 7, 2014 12:03 PM by Q2 News
BILLINGS - A charge against a Minnesota man accused of vandalizing Pompeys Pillar National Monument by scratching a love note into the rock near the signature of Capt. William Clark has been resolved.
The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Cole Randall of Plymouth, Minn., with a misdemeanor offense, according to a press release issued Monday.
Randall has accepted responsibility and agreed to pay $1,000 in fines and $3,400 in restitution.
Randall vandalized the monument by carving an inscription of his name and a woman's name in the sandstone wall about three feet from Clark's historic signature.
The carving: "Cole + Shpresa 10/10/2013" was apparently etched into the stone on Oct. 10, 2013. The couple from Minnesota is the folk singing group "Flora Cash."
"It is very sad and disheartening that someone would have such little regard for such a historic site," said Monument Manager Jeff Kitchens. "We are hopeful that this incident raises public awareness about the negative impacts of vandalism."
The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office responded to a security alarm that was triggered at Pompeys Pillar National Monument on the day of the incident.
A deputy interviewed two suspects, but found nothing out of the ordinary.
It wasn't until the next day, while conducting routine maintenance, that Bureau of Land Management personnel discovered the vandalism.
A review of surveillance videos combined with information provided by the sheriff's office identified Randall as the main suspect.
"The Friends of Pompeys Pillar have worked for 25 years to preserve and protect this site," said Jonathan Peart, executive director of the Friends of Pompeys Pillar. "Mr. Randall's blatant disregard for this national treasure is very disturbing. We are pleased he has been brought to justice and will suffer the consequences for his actions."
The BLM is moving forward on restoration efforts of the vandalism. In May, J. Claire Dean, of Dean and Associates, plans to be on site to begin restoration work.
"We are hopeful that some of the damage to our historic treasure will be fixed," said Kitchens. "However, the carving by Mr. Randall was so deep and severe that we are limited in what can be done."
Reviews of the vandalism indicate that the damage also impacted other, more faded historical signatures, some of which were over 100 years old.