Vandal defaces Old Citrus Co. Courthouse in name of "art"

Haley Hinds Reporting

- An act of vandalism turned into a public spectacle. A man spray-painted the Old Citrus County Courthouse, smashed through glass, and then climbed up to the roof.

Deputies say they were eventually able to bring Kiillian McLean down and arrest him.  When deputies asked him why he did it, he told them it was "art."

As word got around, it became clear that this was a crime that affected almost everyone.

"I saw an upset city. Our town was heartbroken," said Nicole House of Nicole's House of Cakes. "There was graffiti on the courthouse, the clock tower was broken into pieces."

The still of the morning was shattered, quite literally, with the sounds of breaking glass and the alarm at the Old Courthouse.

"I saw the graffiti on the building originally," said Patty Cali. "I saw the fire truck. He was reaching up to capture the gentleman who had done this destruction."

"Probably every available sheriff and fire truck trying to get him down," said Heidi Kenyon, who also works at Nicole's House of Cakes.

Once responders did get 21-year-old McLean safely to the ground, the focus shifted to the mess.

"Jesus" was spray painted on the sidewalk and what appears to be an arrow was painted on Aaron Weaver's Purple Heart memorial.

"It happens to be someone our community knows and loves and it was really hard to see that," said House.

Sprayed on the historic building were McLean's Twitter and Instagram account names. Around 5 a.m., he tweeted "About to be making headlines" and included a purple heart emoji.

"Not only outside. He went inside. Destroyed almost everything. It's very sad," said Rosario Cali.

Glass doors throughout the building were smashed to pieces and part of the clock tower, too.

"I'm right across the street from the courthouse," said House. "That's our city icon. I grew up here. I played on those steps."

This building itself is more than a century old.  It's a museum now, was the county courthouse until 1978, and was shown in Elvis's 1962 movie "Follow That Dream."

Its preservation, not destruction, has been a citywide effort.

"There's a lot of people who are really angry," House said. "There's a lot of people who are heartbroken and teared up. It's just really sad."

But, instead of being angry, the people at Nicole's House of Cakes are now including McLean's name on their prayer board.

"Whoever did this, we are going to support that person. We are going to keep that person in prayer and help them as much as anyone else would," said Kenyon.

Investigators say McLean appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of his arrest.  He is facing several charges including criminal mischief, disfiguring a monument and burglary with damage.

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