Supervisor Jeff Stone has asked Riverside County to post a reward of up to $10,000 for new information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for setting fire to a statue of late President Ronald Reagan in Temecula, it was announced Tuesday.
A parks worker discovered that the bronze statue in Ronald Reagan Sports Park on Rancho Vista Road had been badly burned on or about Sept. 20.
The monument had been donated to the City of Temecula in 2011 by the nonprofit Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park. It was the first phase of a planned monument that also will celebrate the park’s founding members and volunteers.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider Stone's proposed reward during its Oct. 8 meeting, according to a news release.
“It’s despicable that someone would intentionally damage a public work of art that honors President Reagan,” said Stone, who represents Temecula and Murrieta as part of the Third District. “The people who would do something like this need to know, we will take unusual measures to make sure they are caught and punished.”
The Board of Supervisors may offer a reward under state Government Code Section 53069.5 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of people who commit certain kinds of crimes, the news release stated.
If more than one eligible person claims the reward, the Executive Office will consult with law enforcement officials to determine how important each claimant’s information was to the investigation, according to the news release.
His office would then submit recommendations to the Board about potential reward distributions. The total of the rewards paid in the case could not exceed $10,000 regardless of how many people file claims and the dates by which they file.
Prior to Stone's announcement, citizens whom attended the Sept. 24 Temecula City Council meeting had urged the city to post a reward.
"...I am completely outraged," said Rick Reiss, a member of Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park. "...To me it reminds me of the fascists of the 1930s who would go and smash businesses."
Resident Wayne Hall said: "I would like to see city put out a reward for this dirtbag...If you have a problem with Ronald Reagan, fine, but they attacked Temecula..I take that personally."
Temecula City Councilman Ron Roberts said he had received several emails regarding contributions of reward money and/or surveillance equipment. Roberts agreed there needed to be surveillance installed to prevent it from happening again. A city subcommittee was expected to meet in the meantime to discuss a plan of action, he said.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is working with the CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department to investigate the alleged vandalism.
Anyone with information about those responsible for setting fire to statue of Ronald Reagan should contact the fire department's arson hotline at 800-633-2836.