DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - DeKalb County police tell Channel 2 Action News they have collected plenty of evidence as they search for the vandals who targeted the county's government building over the weekend.
A group wearing masks and hoods could be seen on surveillance video breaking windows and glass doors with hammers and pickaxes at the Maloof Administrative Building.
“We’re going to do everything humanly possible to solve this case and I think we can solve it,” DeKalb interim police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said.
DeKalb investigators said the video is just the start to find the group of vandals.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr learned they have at least 15 forms of evidence against the vandals who targeted the building. That includes DNA sent to labs for testing and a clearer view of some of the suspects.
"They discarded their masks and their ability to conceal themselves before they left the downtown area," Lumpkin told Carr.
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For the first time, officials are now saying the vandalism could be connected to recent DeKalb County jail protests. Carr has been following the protests against alleged inmate abuse over the past month.
"Certainly, we'll be looking at some of those individuals," Lumpkin said.
Carr spoke with one of the leaders who has organized the protests. Meg Dudukovich confirmed she believes the jail fight was a motive in Friday's damage, but she denied knowing anyone behind the masks.
"I think this shows we've reached a boiling point where the Sheriff cannot ignore this type of stuff. People are not just going to be quiet anymore," Dudukovich said.
COUNTY RESPONSE TO VANDALS
Channel 2's Sophia Choi sat down exclusively with DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond about the action the county is taking.
When he what happened, Thurmond told Choi his biggest concerns weren't about the damage, but rather the vandals themselves.
"This could have easily escalated into something much more violent and dangerous particularly if there had been an engagement from law enforcement while it was ongoing," Thurmond said.
The CEO said investigators will get to the bottoms of who these people are.
"We’re working with federal and state agencies the perpetrators will be identified and brought to justice," Thurmond told Choi.
DeKalb upgraded security at the Maloof building in the last year, includiing installing cameras such as the one that captured the vandals in action.
"Security in public places is not an option anymore. We saw the tragedy just this weekend in Virginia Beach. So it was important to me to enhance camera as well as physical security around the building," the CEO said.
The government building was open for business as usual Monday, thanks to crews working all weekend to clean up the vandalism.
Thurmond told Choi it will cost DeKalb taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. He had this message for the vandals:
"I encourage all citizens who may have grievances against this government. You will have the right to assemble. You will have the right to free speech. There is no right to engage in random of violence, or random acts of destruction or even terrorism."
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