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Vandal strikes Billings airport, suspect arrested

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Dec 11, 2023

BILLINGS - Authorities were investigating a rash of vandalism Monday morning at the main entrance to Billings Logan International Airport.

The vandalism included large swaths of spray-painted messages, damage to the glass at one entrance, and an attempt to light a fire inside one of entryway, according to Jeff Roach, the airport director of aviation and transit.

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Damage to the glass of one of the main entrances at Billings Logan International Airport.

Roach said the damage was done shortly after midnight and a male suspect is in custody. He said the damage was estimated at more than $1,500.

"It's always disappointing when you have public property damaged," Roach said Monday morning. "We try very hard to keep the terminal looking nice, as well as operating safely and efficiently, and any time there's damage to the terminal, we're very sad to see that."

Many travelers, like Fatima Najeeb, were shocked by the damage Monday morning.

"I've never seen something like this before," Najeeb said. "Why would you do that at the airport? You don't know who's coming from somewhere for the first time and it just gives a really bad first impression."

Billings police Lt. Matt Lennick said later Monday that a bystander saw the vandal in action "and stopped the suspect from throwing lighter fluid on the fire and was assaulted in the process."

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Roach confirmed that a fire had been started in one of the entrances before the suspect was caught.

"There was a flammable material that was ignited, but it didn't appear to create much damage," Roach said. "It was mostly the damage from the spray paint and the rock breaking the glass that we've had to address."

Najeeb said she was happy to hear the incident didn't become much worse.

"I'm glad it wasn't worse and they did not light anything on fire," Najeeb said. "It's a small city and we just have one airport. We don't want it to be damaged."

And Roach was happy they caught the suspect at a time when no travelers were affected.

“Thankfully the incident occurred when there were no flights going on at the time and thankfully it was all taken care of when the morning flights began so there was no impact on the traveling public,” Roach said.

The suspect, Jared Saffold, was booked into the Yellowstone County jail on possible charges of felony arson, criminal mischief, and assault, Lennick said.

The written graffiti appears to reference Crispus Attucks, a historical figure who is regarded as the first person killed in the American Revolution.

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Spray-painted messages were discovered Monday morning at the entrance of Billings Logan International Airport.