Community Rallies Around Business Owner After Vandals Wreck Shop

The business community in Vienna, Virginia, is rallying around a store owner whose shop was recently wrecked by vandals.

Almost every single piece of equipment at the PostNet business services store was broken, even the coffeemaker. Owner James Cudney said when one of his employees opened up Feb. 6, she discovered the mess.

"I got a phone call from one of my employees and she was like, 'James, you have to get here right now,'" said Cudney.

Even now, a month later, paint is spattered everywhere, on the floors, counters, walls and ceiling. All the equipment used for copying and printing posters and signs was overturned and smashed. The digital press alone was worth $40,000.

"It was kind of violent," said Cudney. "Every machine was taken off our back counter and smashed on the ground."

Cudney opened PostNet two years ago. He's been active in the community for years as a Rotarian and a Mason and he's a founding member of the Vienna Business Association. He never imagined his business would become a crime scene.

"You never expect anything like this to happen in the town of Vienna. It definitely feels violated. It sort of feels like a personal attack," said Cudney.

Based on some graffiti left behind, police believe the vandals may have been targeting a woman, perhaps an employee, Cudney said.

Word of the vandalism spread quickly to fellow business owners like Peggy James.

"People were shocked and appalled, and everybody reached out to me to make sure it's OK to reach out to James," she said.

Cudney shared what happened on social media in hopes it might generate leads for police. He said he was still feeling pretty beaten down a few weeks ago when he went into the store one morning and found his store window painted with colorful hearts and messages like "Love Wins" and "Vienna Supports PostNet." Fellow business owners, customers and even some passers-by took part.

"I walked in the front doors and all this color from all these hearts, words of encouragement were streaming through the window, and really I almost started tearing up," Cudney said. "It was a magical moment. It really made me realize how wonderful this town is, how wonderful the community is."

"It just shows how people are so compassionate about what happened here and we really don't' stand for this kind of thing," Town Manager Mercury Payton said.

Fellow business owners said the hand-painted window and the offers of support only reinforce their conviction to keep doing business in Vienna.

"I don't think its tainted my feelings about Vienna," James said. "It's just reaffirmed this community really comes together when we need it to come together."

Cudney said he plans to reopen, possibly as soon as May.

No arrests have been made.

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