OKC Residents Heartbroken Over Bombing Memorial Theft

Monday, February 23rd 2015, 5:19 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma City man was taken to jail, accused of taking items off the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Police arrested Carson Wittwer, 26, and a friend near N.W. 7th Street and Hudson Avenue.

The friend was jailed on a complaint of Public Drunk.

Wittwer faces a municipal complaint for that and Theft and Resisting Arrest. 

2/23/2015 Related Story: OKC Man Arrested For Allegedly Stealing From Bombing Memorial Fence

According to the police report, an out of town visitor from California noticed the two on their bicycles near the Oklahoma City National Memorial fence on Sunday morning close to 9 a.m. It stated he then saw one of them place a cross in his backpack.

A lot of people from out of town and even in town like to leave something behind on the fence as a way to honor both victims and survivors. But this guy did just the opposite. And it didn't sit well with anybody.

“It's just terrible,” said Liz Mlekush, who has a personal connection to the memorial. “They don't have any right to do that!”

Mlekush said she sees the fence as more than a tribute to the fallen.

She has a church friend who lost a loved one in the bombing.

She also works for the firm that helped design the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

It broke her heart to have heard that someone took from it.

“It's awful,” said Mlekush. “This place is really special to so many people, has such a great meaning to all of us who live here and who have lost friends and family. It's just terrible! They don't have any right to do that!”

Police arrested Wittwer and his friend near N.W. 7th Street and Hudson Avenue.

According to the police report, both were on bikes and had backpacks on, and inside Wittwer's backpack police found a brown ceramic cross and a rag taken from the fence.

Those who provide security around the memorial said thefts like this are rare and most of these items are treated with care.

“We've catalogued and archived over 60 thousand such items,” said Leon Gillium, Security Director for the Oklahoma City National Memorial. “And this is an isolated incident - for people to take these items off their fence.”

Gillium said the site is protected by uniformed and armed security guards around the clock, as well as by electronic surveillance. He said it is also protected by citizens both in Oklahoma City and abroad, who notify them in case anyone does anything suspicious, just like the witness who reported Wittwer to police.

News 9 spoke with the friend who was with Wittwer the morning they were arrested. He said Wittwer is from out of town and has only lived in Oklahoma City a few months. He said he doesn't know why Wittwer took the items off the fence, but claimed they were still a little drunk Sunday morning when it happened.