This just upset me so much. I hope they find who did this and they are charged
Suffolk County police are searching for vandals who knocked over a 300-pound monument to 9/11 rescue dogs in a Lindenhurst park, officials said Friday. The cement statue, modeled after a German shepherd who spent 150 days searching through the rubble of Ground Zero
, was the only thing damaged in the memorial park on Irmisch Avenue near Easton Street, officials said.
"It was 9/11, which to everyone should mean something," said the dog's handler, retired NYPD officer Steve Smaldon, 50, of Lindenhurst.
"Why would somebody want to do this? It's like going into a cemetery," Smaldon said as he stood near the vandalized statue Friday morning.
The statue "wasn't an easy thing" to knock over, said Suffolk County police Det. Lt. Robert Edwards, commander of the First Squad.
"We don't know if it was targeted or if it was just vandalism," he said.
The park has plaques dedicated to eight Lindenhurst residents who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in addition to the statue modeled after Hansen, the rescue dog.
The park was dedicated in 2007 and features a stream and two small pools of water in the shape of the Twin Towers. Residents honored in the park include FDNY firefighters Joseph Angelini and his son, Joseph Jr.The memorial was conceived of by an 11-year-old middle school student the day after the terrorist attacks.
Donna Angelini, the widow of Joseph Angelini Jr., told Newsday at a memorial ceremony in September that she was given keys to the park after locks were put on the gates to keep out vandals.
She said then that she often visited the park to walk and sit on a bench across from an engraving of her husband. "It's very tranquil and peaceful," she said.
Smaldon said Hansen, named for an NYPD officer, found numerous remains. "Every day, we found somebody. Nobody alive," Smaldon said.
He said Hansen died of natural causes in 2004 at age 11.
He said seeing the statue knocked over and damaged was heartbreaking."Watching him laying there is making me cry," said Smaldon, who said he spent 23 years on the job, a dozen of them with the canine unit.
"You feel like it's him. You can't help him. It's like when he died."from Newsday 5/27/11