PEARL RIVER – Four teenagers were arrested for destroying more than 50 Christmas trees at the Shady Pond Farm, The Advocate reports.
The vandals initially destroyed nine trees several weeks ago, according to the owner of the tree farm, Clarke Gernon. After that incident, 52 other trees were destroyed on September 24 and Gernon was able to capture evidence of the crime with surveillance video cameras.
The video was reviewed by a member of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, along with a local timber agent, and was submitted to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. As a result, four teenagers were arrested.
Two of the five teenagers arrested were 16 years old, one from Carriere, Mississippi and one from Pearl River. They were each charged with one count of felony misdemeanor of criminal damage to property, one count of misdemeanor criminal damage to property and two counts each of criminal trespassing. Both were released on custodial agreement, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office.
Frank Deets II and Wade Glass, both 17 years old, were booked with felony criminal damage to property, criminal trespassing and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
According to the LDAF, a fifth person is expected to turn himself into authorities on Tuesday. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office says during interviews with the teenagers, investigators learned that the act of destroying trees is called "tree tackling."
Gernon told The Advocate that although Shady Pond Farm has been vandalized several times in the past, the latest incident caused about $6,000 worth of damage.
"This is an attack on Christmas," he told The Advocate. "There's no other way to look at it. It's sickening. We got calls from people as far away as Lafayette from people who were just disgusted that someone would do something as senseless as this."