For the past week, Madison Police Department Det. Andre Johnson has been driving past the Morgan County Library daily. So have other Madison Police Department officers. Johnson and the rest of the department were searching for a person who had defaced the men’s bathroom of the library with anti-African-American terms, Nazi symbols and an endearment for methamphetamine. The black marks had been scrawled on floors, toilet seats, bathroom stall doors, sinks, a trashcan, a mirror and a baby changing station.
On Tuesday, June 29, officers found and arrested a suspect.
According to Johnson, Morgan County Library employees reported to Morgan County Dispatch that a man matching the description of the suspect who defaced the library had returned and left, walking toward the Morgan County Middle School while smoking a cigarette.
According to Azalea Regional Library System Director Stacy Brown, library staff “noticed someone matching his description in the Laughin’ Garden (Tuesday) afternoon and once he started walking down the sidewalk toward the high school we recognized his backpack and sneakers. That’s when we alerted the authorities who located him…”
Four officers, including Johnson, converged on the area. At Madison’s Lambert Park at the intersection of College Avenue and North Main Street, officers detained and then arrested 22-year-old Anthony Luna.
Luna, Johnson said, told officers he was homeless. He has a Kentucky’s driver’s license, Johnson said, and is wanted in that state on a misdemeanor charge of tampering with government records. While Luna was being detained, officers found suspected methamphetamine on his person.
Luna now faces charges of criminal trespass for the defacement at the library and possession of methamphetamine.
According to Johnson, Luna confessed to defacing the bathroom during his arrest and “blamed it on the drugs.”
Madison Police Department reports state that the library was defaced sometime between 2 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22. Luna’s image was captured on the library’s closed circuit video surveillance cameras and spread.
At the time Brown said the incident was “race-related hate speech.” Brown said library staff contacted the facility’s contracted cleaner who spent several hours using bleach to clean the markings. “The Morgan County Library doesn’t have a family bathroom, so it was imperative that we were able to thoroughly clean and disinfect the men’s restroom in order to provide facilities for the public the next day.”
“We have never experienced anything like this at the Morgan County Library and I hope this is the last time we are faced with this terrible situation. It has been very hurtful for the staff who work at the library — they have been through so much during the pandemic and were happy to finally welcome patrons back into the library,” Brown said in an email response.
Brown said after hearing of the arrest the library staff was “very relieved that the perpetrator has been apprehended. This situation has had the staff on alert and on edge, so we are thankful that this individual has been caught.”