Vandals spray paint rocks at Zimmerman Park

2014-08-06T18:45:00Z 2014-08-07T17:24:26Z Vandals spray paint rocks at Zimmerman ParkBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Vandals recently struck Zimmerman Park, a natural area atop the Rimrocks, spray painting sandstone rocks and cliffs with obscenities and phallic symbols.

The vandals also left some calling cards — and potential clues — with “Mike” and “Ben” scrawled in black and red paint in multiple places.

“They were nice enough to leave their names,” said Cal Cumin, Yellowstone County parks director, who surveyed the damage with sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday.

Cumin said some people called him recently to report the graffiti and he contacted the sheriff’s department.

Cleaning up the graffiti won’t be cheap or easy.

“I think about a thousand bucks at least. I have to get an air compressor in here. Long hoses. A lot of people. All that stuff,” Cumin said, hiking along a path.

“That’s going to be harder than hell to get down there with an air compressor. We’ll have to sand blast. There’s no other way to get it off,” he said.

“Getting all that stuff out of sandstone is incredibly hard,” Cumin continued. “It’s sensitive.”

The graffiti is located at the end of pathway leading from the parking lot to an area under the cliffs where there are large rock formations and cliff overhangs. The fresh red and black scrawlings are extensive.

One rock bears the name that appears to be, “Kersty.” Nearby is an obscenity and “UR Kool.”

The graffiti continues with arrows on rocks pointing the way down to a huge flat sandstone slab. There, on the slab, are four large stick figures bearing the names appearing to be "Mike," "Ben," "Kersty" and "Brian."

Zimmerman Park is a county park off Highway 3, west of Zimmerman Trail. The park features trails popular with mountain bikers, hikers and runners and offers stunning views of the valley.

Sheriff’s Lt. Kent O’Donnell said deputies are beginning their investigation and took photographs of the graffiti.

“We’ll let our gang guys look at it and let the city gang guys look at it to see if they I.D. anybody with tagging,” O’Donnell said.

The department, O’Donnell said, is taking the case seriously and urged people to call 911 if they see something suspicious.

“It’s just really tragic that someone would do that to their own community. It’s just beyond me,” he said.

Cumin said he probably will be offering a reward, possibly $1,000 from private funds, for information about the vandalism.

“We’re really looking for some help from the public on this,” O’Donnell said.

People with information can call the sheriff’s office at 406-256-2929 or Crimestoppers at 406-245-6660. Callers can remain anonymous.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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