80 headstones vandalized at Kalamazoo cemetery

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo authorities are investigating after 80 headstones were vandalized, many toppled into the dirt.

“This is supposed to be off limits for everything like that,” Kalamazoo resident Linda Mosher said as she looked over the damage Thursday. “I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it.”

The city of Kalamazoo was alerted to the vandalism at Riverside Cemetery on Gull Road around 1:30 p.m. Monday. They initially thought 40 headstones had been vandalized, but the number increased to 80 after the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety investigated.

“We’ve had one or two knocked over in the past before,” KDPS Lt. Brad Misner said. “You can push them over, (but) they are quite heavy. But again, 70 or 80 is going to be a group of people.”

Mosher went to the cemetery after hearing of the vandalism to check on her parents’ headstone.

“Thank goodness it’s OK,” she said.

“Some of those monuments are ancient. They can’t really be replaced. Maybe even the families aren’t around anymore,” she continued.

She was among several people wo weaved through the fallen headstones Thursday, checking on the markers for their loved ones and hoping the families impacted are able to put the pieces back together.

“What about the ones who don’t have anyone left to look after them and now their grave’s just going to be in shambles?” area resident Carolyn Hiestand wondered.

According to a release from the city, headstones that were chipped, scratched, broken or otherwise damaged will remain ‘as is’ unless the family decides to file an insurance claim or take legal action. The city is working to get quotes to have the headstones that were not broken moved back to where they belong.

City officials think the vandalism occurred sometime between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22. KDPS doesn’t have any leads about who’s behind it.

“I can imagine a little body weight, you know knock it over like a football player,” Misner said. “But you know it’s completely disrespectful.”

The city of Kalamazoo is offering a $500 reward for information leading to charges in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269.337.8994 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100 or www.kalamazoosilentobserver.com.

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