Volunteers made fast work of removing graffiti from the Vietnam POW/MIA mural Photo by Robert Johnson / Magnus Studio

Volunteers made fast work of removing graffiti from the Vietnam POW/MIA mural
Photo by Robert Johnson / Magnus Studio

A 24-year-old man has been arrested on felony vandalism charges in connection with the desecration of the Vietnam POW/MIA mural in Venice on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, but authorities believe three other suspects remain at large.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies took Angel Castro into custody on July 13 in Los Angeles.

Investigators tied Castro to the tagger handle “LITER,” one of four handles that were spray-painted directly over many of the 2,273 names of unaccounted for American servicemen on May 25.

The mural on the concrete wall at Pacific Avenue at Sunset Court — now tarped over pending decisions about whether to restore it and how — was painted 24 years ago by a homeless Vietnam veteran.

According to a Sheriff’s Department bulletin, Castro admitted his involvement in the tagging to Det. Michael Thibodeaux after his arrest.

Castro is being held on $95,000 bail.

The felony complaint against Castro also alleges that he was convicted of robbery last year, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted as charged, Castro faces a maximum possible sentence of six years in state prison.

Authorities are still seeking the taggers tied to the other three handles left on the wall —“PHEB,” “NONER” and “SNAKE” — department spokesman Ramon Montenegro said.

“Our detectives feel confident that we’ll eventually be able to identify the other three,” Montenegro said.

The vandalism over a large portion of the long-neglected memorial sparked outrage throughout Venice and the region. A crew of volunteers led by a retired Marine Corps veteran scrubbed much of the original graffiti off the wall days after the tagging, but those efforts further damaged the mural by removing enough of the original paint to erase some of the names, which complicates restoration efforts.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact detectives at (888) 950-7233 or report an anonymous tip at (800) 222-8477.

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