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Sculptures vandalized

August 11, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Two gray, marble lions that have guarded the entrance to Black Rock Estates since the 1980s were sprayed with red paint, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

The sculptures represent Chinese symbols of peace and power.

Obscene characters and racist symbols were drawn on the 5-ton sculptures on Mount Aetna Road between 10:30 p.m. on Monday and 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, deputies said.

Contractors working at Black Rock Tuesday morning were the first to notice the damage.

The Sheriff's Department has not determined whether the incident was a typical act of vandalism or a hate crime.

Generally, in order for it to be a hate crime an action has to indicate a particular victim was targeted, deputies said.

A $500 reward has been offered by Black Rock Estates owner Manny Shaool for information that would lead to the prosecution and conviction of the culprits.

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Shaool purchased the sculptures almost 20 years ago in China, he said.

Nothing like this has ever happened to him before, said Shaool, who moved from Iran to Washington County 37 years ago.

He originally planned to sell the sculptures but decided to place them at the entrance to Black Rock. The affluent housing development has 30 homes and is across from the Black Rock Golf Course.

"I thought they would look nice there," he said.

Shaool is unsure how much it will cost to repair the lions. The spray paint covers about three-fourths of the sculptures.

The business owner said he is appalled by the incident and considers it worse than regular vandalism.

"It's not like slashing a tire. Someone damaged art," he said.

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