D.C. Police Chief: Green Paint Vandalism Acts Likely Related

58-year-old Jiamei Tian arrested for defacing property in National Cathedral vandalism

A judge ordered the suspect in the National Cathedral vandalism held without bond Tuesday.

The suspect, identified on her Chinese passport as 58-year-old Jiamei Tian, was taken into custody Monday and charged with defacing property after allegedly splattering green paint inside two chapels at the National Cathedral.

The arrest came after police discovered two similar incidents on the National Mall and one at a Logan Circle church.

According to court documents, Tian was holding a soda can of green paint when an officer approached her in the Children's Chapel of the National Cathedral. She also had paint on her clothing and hands.

The officer asked her what she was doing, but she walked away, placing the can of paint into her bag. She was then arrested. Sources say she was loud during the arrest but did not resist.

Tian was in the country on a tourist visa that expired Saturday, News4's Chris Gordon reported. Prosecutors argued she was a flight risk because she apparently came to D.C. solely with the intent to deface property. The defense argued there is no evidence linking the other vandalism cases.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an immigration detainer against Tian Tuesday, requesting law enforcement notify ICE before releasing Tian and keeping her in custody until ICE can assume custody in the event that she is released.

The incidents of vandalism appear to be connected, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Tuesday.

The cathedral is one of four D.C. landmarks marked with green paint in recent days. Lanier said on her regularly scheduled appearance on NewsChannel 8 that police believe the incidents are connected.

The first-known incident was discovered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial, where paint was found splattered on the base of the statue of the president.

"I have no idea who would want to do something like that," said jogger Scott Arndt, who was out on his morning run the morning the vandalism was discovered. "To me, it's defacing America. It's not just defacing the Lincoln Memorial, but it's something against all of America."

A high-ranking police source told News4 that Tian is the person seen on surveillance video at the Lincoln Memorial.

Similar green paint was also discovered at the Luther Place Memorial Church at Thomas Circle and on a statue memorializing Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

At the church, the paint was found in several places: On a statue of Martin Luther, on the exterior of the building and on an organ inside. The damage was discovered Sunday after the church's noon service. Witnesses told News4 the woman they saw at the church Sunday matches the description of Tian. Parish administrator Jack Reiffer recognized video of Tian as the same woman at the church Sunday.

In the Smithsonian incident, paint was found Monday on the front and back of the pedestal of the Joseph Henry statue, located outside the Smithsonian castle near the merry-go-round on the National Mall.

It's unclear when the statue was vandalized. U.S. Park Police were alerted Monday morning to that incident.

Cleanup continued Tuesday afternoon at all four sites.

Linda St. Thomas of the Smithsonian told NBC Washington they should be able to remove the paint within a couple of days, but they are taking their time to make sure they don't damage the memorial.

"We have to find a product that will not damage the protective coating," she said.

Ian Glick, of the U.S. Park Police union, said the vandalism is evidence that more officers are needed to patrol in order to prevent such crimes.

Park Police are checking other statues on the National Mall.

The charge against Tian is a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. She is due back in court Friday.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us