Images and videos from nearby surveillance cameras captured two men dragging the tree to the buoy and lighting it on fire. At times, the men ducked behind the buoy as vehicles drove by, according to the police report. The two even took photos with their phones next to the buoy as the tree burned, according to the report. It all occurred a little after 3 a.m., and then the men ran off.
News spread quickly in the tight-knit island community as images of the crime were shared on social media.
Cameron Briody, a bartender at Irish Kevin’s Bar, told his boss he recognized the suspects from the night before, when he served them three rounds of drinks, according to the police report. Briody’s manager, Daylin Starks, located the suspects on the bar’s surveillance video and showed police, according to the report.
The suspects were wearing the same clothes as seen in the video from the buoy.
Starks pulled up bar receipts for one of the men, and police were able to use that information to identify a 22-year-old man from Florida and a 21-year-old man from Texas as the two men wanted for damaging the landmark.
Repairs to the buoy, which was installed in 1983, cost more than $5,000, according to the police report. Police were able to make contact with both men, who acknowledged what they did and said they had made a big mistake, according to the report. The two suspects face felony charges of criminal mischief with damages over $1,000.