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Two charged for defacing Sandy Hook memorial mural in Southington

Police said Cavallo and Lombardi used spray paint to cover the mural and butterflies representing the victims. Both turned themselves into Southington PD on Tuesday.

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. —  Police arrested two suspects in the vandalism of a mural honoring the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

According to a release, Southington officers have responded to past incidents of vandalism at the 245 Summer Street property, where the owner donated the back of one structure for the mural. However, the vandals arrested this week were the first to deface the actual memorial mural.

"It’s terrible that somebody would even think to do that," said Frank Castiola. 

The mural depicts 26 butterflies flying towards an eternal sun. There are six large butterflies that represent the adults killed in the 2012 shooting and the 20 smaller ones are depictions of the child victims

In collaboration with Plainville PD, officials identified 20-year-old Lorenzo Cavallo, of Plainville and 21-year-old Gina Lombardi, of Bristol as the suspects.

Police said Cavallo and Lombardi used spray paint to cover the mural and butterflies. On Tuesday, both turned themselves in to the Southington Police Department.

"No words to describe the feelings. It’s just absolutely, despicable. Awful. I can’t understand somebody doing such a thing," said Gale Castiola. 

According to a release, Lombardi told officers she was apologetic, didn't know the significance of the mural, and was not intentionally defacing the memorial.

The vandalism was a 'bad knee jerk reaction' to an incident with law enforcement in Plainville that left her feeling helpless, Lombardi told police.

Mary DeCroce understands that the random act of violence may not have been targeting the memory of the Sandy Hook victims but seeing the mural she helped create in such a way was hard to take.  

"It was devastating because people know what this mural is about. It’s sacred and it has a sacredness to it," said DeCroce. 

DeCroce and fellow designer Ryan Christianson got to work to quickly repair the mural that was originally unveiled during Southington’s first Kindness Day in 2013. People in the community created a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of repairs.  

"The thing with paint is it can always be repaired," said DeCroce. "Bad things can always be fixed and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel."

Both Cavalla and Lombardi have been charged with 1st-degree Criminal Mischief and 1st-degree Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Mischief. 

The cost to repair the mural was estimated to be approximately $2,500, according to the property owner.

On Tuesday, both turned themselves into the Southington Police Department.

According to a release, Lombardi told officers she was apologetic, didn't know the significance of the mural and was not intentionally defacing the memorial.

The vandalism was a 'bad knee jerk reaction' to an incident with law enforcement in Plainville that left her feeling helpless, Lombardi told police.

Officials said she also confirmed that Lorenzo was also responsible for adding graffiti.

Both have been charged with 1st degree Criminal Mischief and 1st degree Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Mischief. 

The cost to repair the mural was estimated to be approximately $2,500, according to the property owner.