Vulgar spray paint vandalism at St. George home is connected to bullying, family says

ST. GEORGE — A family affected by an act of vandalism in downtown St. George say they believe it was the result of bullying targeted at a 14-year-girl.

A pickup truck is covered in red spray pain after an incident of vandalism, St. George, Utah, Nov. 7, 2019. St. George News has opted to blur crude words and images spray painted on the truck and other property. | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

At around 5 a.m. Thursday, a St. George Police officer knocked on the door of a home where an SUV in the driveway and a neighbor’s pickup truck parked on the side of the street had been covered in red spray paint. The home’s driveway and garage door were also tagged.

Phrases spray-painted on the truck and SUV included “BY 1400,” “KYS,” “MOO” and “BLOOD,” as well as various profanities and drawings of male genitalia.

The police officer told the family that an employee of an elementary school across the street noticed the vulgar wording and imagery spray-painted on the vehicles and contacted the police department, the teen’s mother told St. George News.

The teen’s mother said the cost of repainting the vehicles was estimated to be several thousand dollars.

St. George News is respecting the family’s requests for anonymity.

The vehicle tagged in the driveway is a rental, the mother said — the family’s regular vehicle was in the shop for repairs. The truck belongs to their next-door neighbor.

The driveway where an incident of vandalism occurred in St. George, Utah, Nov. 7, 2019. St. George News has opted to blur crude words and images spray painted on the property. | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

When asked why they believed the vandalism had occurred, both the mother and her daughter said they think it may be tied to bullying the teen said she’s experienced at school.

“Over my many years in public school, I’ve been bullied a lot,” the teen said. “There are a couple of people I’ve gotten into altercations with over texts or in person, but nothing ever physical.”

Someone who doesn’t like her must have gotten angry over something and vandalized the vehicles, the teen said, adding that she has no idea why someone would go to such an extreme.

The teen and her mother said recent instances of bullying had occurred at St. George Academy where the teen was a student for a time. The girl has been taken out of the school, and they are considering online school for her now.

The teen said she had nothing bad to say about St. George Academy and stressed that she adores the school and teachers there — it was just some of the students that were a problem for her.

The teen and her mother said incidents of bullying were reported to school officials.

A pickup truck is covered in red spray pain after an incident of vandalism, St. George, Utah, Nov. 7, 2019. St. George News has opted to blur crude words and images spray painted on the truck and other property. | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

David Jones, St. George Academy’s executive director, said the school was unable to comment on the issue due to privacy laws but confirmed the teen was no longer a student at the academy.

St. George Academy was recently recognized for having a low prevalence of bullying. Jodi Jensen, the school’s director of student services, said this was due to the culture students have created, which promotes proactive measures and an ability to speak out about issues without worry.

While the teen and her mother believe the vandalism is related to the bullying, they said they are leaving it to police to determine who the offending party is.

The girl’s mother praised by the police and community response to the vandalism.

“The police department has been phenomenal in addressing this issue,” she said, adding that they’ve been in contact with the family throughout the day.

As for the community, she said random strangers have appeared at the door with cookies and flowers and words of encouragement. Feedback over social media has also been highly supportive.

“People didn’t like it. They didn’t like what happened to our family. They didn’t like that a neighbor was pulled into it. They didn’t like that children at the elementary across the street had to see the vulgarity on the vehicles,” the mother said.

As the vandalism is under investigation, St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin said she was unable to say much about the incident beyond verifying that it was reported and that it’s being looked into.

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