No arrest made in Doko park vandalism

Steven Hasterok, Director of the Conference and Events Center, examines damage from large ‘donuts’ cut into the park’s athletic field. | Barbara Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – Richland County deputies have a suspect in an ongoing vandalism case that resulted in $1,500 in damage at Doko Park.

They know the person’s name, that he’s an adult, the license plate of the truck he drives and where he lives. There’s even video of the July 31 incident in which the suspect’s vehicle shredded the turf while doing donut circles in the park.

Seemingly, it’s an open and shut case.

Yet, over nine weeks later, no arrests have been made as of press time. Blythewood town officials and Richland County investigators are keeping mum about most aspects of the case.

All that’s been released is a heavily redacted police report that hides the identity of the prime suspect.

Crucial details such as the color of his truck and plate number are shielded from view.

Investigators also wouldn’t release video surveillance of the incident, citing a vaguely worded exemption in state law blocking the release of records that “would interfere with a prospective law enforcement proceeding.”

Town Administrator Carroll Williamson deferred inquiries regarding the investigation to the sheriff’s department.

“It’s still under investigation,” Williamson said. “I’ve not gotten an update recently.”

Sara Blan, a public information officer in the sheriff’s department, said a suspect has been identified and charges are pending. Blan declined to identify the suspect.

“The investigator has obtained warrants and the identity will be released when an arrest has been made,” Blan said.

The lethargic progress in the case stands in stark contrast to recent public proclamations that the town would show zero tolerance toward vandalism at Doko Park.

“We’ve been far too lenient and far too patient and now it’s time to enforce the law,” Mayor Bryan Franklin said at a recent council meeting. “And we plan to do that.”

A police report obtained by The Voice states the incident occurred July 31 around 6 p.m.  It was not reported to the sheriff’s office until Aug. 3, according to the report.

The report only lists the suspect as a white male. His date of birth and even his age are redacted.

Sources have confirmed to The Voice that Town Attorney Shannon Burnett revealed in executive session at a town council meeting shortly after the incident that the suspect was a black adult.

The incident report states that the suspect is white.

According to the report, the suspect used his truck to cut a swath of tire tracks through the back field at Doko Park, causing about $1,500 in damages.

The complainant, whose identity is also redacted, said video surveillance captured the suspect performing doughnuts in the field.

Investigators identified a suspect after running his vehicle information through an S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles database.

A deputy reported that he drove through the apartment complex where the suspect lives, but couldn’t locate him or the truck. The suspect’s address, including the name of the apartment complex, is also redacted from the report.

Meantime, Williamson said he wants the public to know that the town has beefed up security at Doko Park to dissuade vandals from striking again.

“The Town has brand new automated security gates off of Langford Road that are now working and the park is closing at sundown with all gates closed,” Williamson said. “Town Council [also] voted on Sept. 27 to totally upgrade and increase all of its security cameras in the Park with six megapixel cameras and broader coverage.”

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