A group of Gainesville business owners, along with the Gainesville Police Department, are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for a rash of broken windows at local businesses.
Public Information Officer Sgt. Belva McClinton said the incidents began in June and have continued throughout the summer.
Two suspects were arrested in late July — a 15-year-old male who was transported to the Juvenile Detention Center in Sherman and 18-year old Jose Ortiz who was arrested on a warrant and booked into the Cooke County Jail. The men were believed to be involved in the breaking of dozens of windows in the Gainesville area. Both face criminal mischief felony charges for damages more than $1,500 but less than $20,000.
Police and business owners hoped that was the end of the criminal mischief spree.
“Right after the arrests, we had a period of about two weeks without incidents, and we thought things would slow down with school about to start,” McClinton said.
Then the incidents started again.
Last weekend, several businesses including Taco Casa, First State Bank, Norwood’s Furniture Repair, Osbornes and Family Life Church reported incidents of criminal mischief. Most of the property owners told police the suspects broke their front doors or shattered large glass windows.
A representative from Family Life Church reported damage to the stucco exterior of one of church’s buildings.
Objects used in the incidents include everything from marbles and BBs to rocks.
The scope of the damage and the persistence of the perpetrators led to the decision to start a reward fund, said Gainesville property owner Rod Tyler.
Tyler — whose buildings include the Hair Affair and Gage Dental — noted that none of his properties were damaged last weekend, but said he’s had to replace at least five windows this summer.
He said he hopes the offer of a cash reward will make somebody talk.
“If you’ve got one person driving and one shooting, you’ve got two people who know something and have probably bragged to their friends,” he said. “(Property owners) are going to try to blitz the media to broadcast information about this reward. I think the community is getting serious and is ready for this thing to end.”
Taco Casa owner Roy Upshaw is offering a $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects who broke three windows in his restaurant this weekend, according to the marquee outside the restaurant.
Anyone with information concerning these offenses should contact the Crimes Tips Line at (940) 612-0000. Information given on the Crime Tips Line is confidential, Tyler noted.
McClinton said it’s hard to say what charges the suspects could face.
“It depends on how many of the incidents we can tie the suspects to,” she said.