A St. Petersburg man was arrested on Tuesday after police said a witness saw him vandalizing a mural and took a photo of the suspect.
- Police arrest St. Pete man for vandalizing mural
- Jared Hernandez charged with criminal mischief
- Hernandez spray painted sign outside business--1 of 1 Customs
“It was a personal attack on me because it was my face," said the victim, Geary Taylor. "That was hand painted by me.”
Taylor is an artist who owns, 1 of 1 Customs, a business that will "hand paint anything," located at 1701 1st Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. On a sign outside the front of the business is a mural of Taylor wearing a Rasta hat.
That mural was vandalized on Feb. 22 at 7 a.m., when black spray paint was used to put a mustache and some glasses on Taylor's face, according to an arrest report. Police said a witness saw Jared Hernandez, 31, in the act of spray painting the mural.
Jared Hernandez is charged with criminal mischief after police say he sprayed painted a sign outside a St. Pete business. (St. Petersburg Police Department)
“He surprisingly sees the guy all of a sudden walk around the building, kind of suspiciously walk around my area and all of a sudden pull out a spray can and start spray painting my sign," Taylor said. "He knew something was wrong with that. So, he starts yelling at the guy, ‘hey, do you know Rasta? What are you doing?’”
Taylor said the witness told him that Hernandez took off on a bicycle and he followed.
“The bike broke down and the person was able to get photos of his face," said Taylor. "Which is something that wasn’t able to be done yet.”
A witness followed the suspect and took photos of the man after his bike broke down.
Police charged Hernandez with criminal mischief.
According to the report, the charge was upgraded to a felony because Hernandez plead no contest and was adjudicated guilty of criminal mischief in February of 2016. In that case, Hernandez was caught on surveillance video on Jan. 13, 2015, spray painting graffiti on the wall of the Lucky Dill, according to court records.
Hernandez was sentenced to pay a $575 fine.
Spectrum Bay News 9 was unable to reach Hernandez at his home but he did post about the alleged crime on his Instagram account.
Hernandez posted a photo of the vandalism to Taylor's mural and commented below that the "biggest impostor award goes to Gary Taylor." He also wrote, "you can't expect someone to remain faithful to you if you consistently undercut them on jobs maliciously....there's only grown babies who can't handle Street ethics."
Hernandez ended his commentary by stating, "the most expensive doodle I know." Police estimated the damage at $600.
Taylor said he's not sure why Hernandez targeted him.
"Maybe some jealousy and misunderstandings of certain things," he said. “Through social media and stuff it looks as though it might have been kind of a joke to him.”
With help from other artists, Taylor was able to restore his mural to its original form.
“I was emotionally hurt, it made me cry," he said. "Brothers have come together and it's just really a family, a community of people came together to stop it."
St. Petersburg police said they're investigating to see if Hernandez is connected to the vandalism of five business murals in January.
With help from other artists, Taylor was able to restore his mural to its original form. (Josh Rojas, staff)