Vandals splash paint over St. Pete murals

- The hunt is on for two people St. Petersburg police say are destroying works of art.

Their actions of splashing gray paint across murals in and around the downtown area, officials say, are causing thousands of dollars in damages.

“I really just don't even know how to feel about it it's just mixed emotions,” said artist Jared Hernandez.

It’s Hernandez’s artwork now at the center of a police investigation. He says four of his murals, some he collaborated on with other artists, were defaced with the gray paint.

“Detectives called me actually accusing me of destroying my own murals so that's actually when I first heard it,” he said. “They said it was a publicity stunt and I told them that they were crazy.”

Hernandez maintains he had nothing to do with the destruction of the artwork.

Surveillance video from one of the incidents just outside of downtown along MLK, shows two people walking with paint cans. Police explain they're looking for a man and woman that have vandalized four murals over the past three weeks.

Hernandez thinks the crimes could be retaliation.

“I made some pretty serious controversial art and I got not a lot of good response from it,” he said. “There's real beef in art there's real feuds in art it's not just about painting for fun.”

St. Pete coffee shop owner, Story Stuart, says a mural outside her store was also ruined. She says the painting has been there for more than a year but has been targeted twice in the past few weeks.

“They have to look at this wall that says hater now instead of the beautiful mural that was given to us,” said Stuart.

Police say they have no idea why someone would be doing this, but they do believe all the cases are connected.

Since the pair captured on surveillance video had their faces covered investigators are hoping for help from the public in identifying them.

“We haven't really had someone who just wants to destroy the mural just for the sake of destroying,” said SPPD spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez

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