Arrest made in Stanley Park, Second Congregational vandalism investigation

May 27, 2020 | Dennis Hackett

WESTFIELD – After a gazebo was destroyed and fires were ignited at Stanley Park and a bench was destroyed at the United Church of Christ Second Congregational on the night of May 6 into early May 7, Westfield police arrested one suspect in connection to the damages.

In the Statement of Facts submitted to the Westfield District Court, Westfield Police Detective Brian Freeman wrote that the suspect, Vladislav Khomichuk is currently facing five charges including two counts of defacing or damaging property, one count of arson of personal property, and two counts of negligently allowing fire damage.

He wrote that there was a wide variety of damage done both in the park and on the church grounds.

“Photos of the gazebo show that all of the railings of the gazebo were destroyed. There was also damage to the nearby bathroom building. The case for the AED was ripped from the wall and smashed to pieces and flower pots were tipped over and thrown about,” Freeman wrote. “On May 10 the United Church of Christ Second Congregational reported that their ‘Kindness Rock’ Display, park bench and flower pots had been destroyed.”

In his report, Freeman stated that he spoke to a witness that talked to the suspect during the week the vandalism occurred.

“She stated that the man’s name was Vlad, he had a slight Russian/Ukrainian accent, and he was 20 years old and that he just got off of probation,” he wrote. “She stated that she spoke with Vlad for a while and about what he was doing. He stated that he wanted to burn the whole forest down.”

He also reported that he was familiar with the suspect from previous investigations, during which he admitted to starting fires inside of the park and Freeman visited the suspect on May 11 to question him over the damages.

During their conversation he wrote that the suspect admitted to destroying the gazebo. “He said something to the effect of ‘that gazebo was an accident, I just had a lot of energy to get out and I was bored,” Freeman wrote.

After their conversation Freeman wrote that he placed the suspect under arrest and transported him to the police station for booking. Once booked, he wrote that they had a recorded conversation and the suspect allegedly confessed to the five charges. “During that conversation he admitted to me that he destroyed the gazebo by kicking the railings, he admitted to starting three fires in the park and admitted to breaking the bench at the church,” he wrote.

Freeman added that the damages to the gazebo are estimated to be over $5,000 and the damage to the church is estimated to be under $500.

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