More windows smashed in downtown core
At about 3 a.m. Sunday morning, someone smashed a bag containing a heavy object through a window at Vision Quest Optical and Gifts on Quilchena Avenue, says the owner.
Harvey Keys said he was in his store when he was awoken by banging on one of the shop windows.
He got up and approached the window, where he said he noticed six people between the ages of 17 and 20 outside his store and one was banging his head against the glass. Keys said he had to hold back one of his two guard dogs from going after the suspects.
“I came out and started yelling at them to get away from the windows,” Keys said. “As I was saying that, another kid took his bag and smashed it through the window.
“I was then taking their pictures, and so they phoned the cops on me. How does that make sense?”
According to the shop’s co-owner, Jeanine Gustafson, several of the suspects remained calm, while two others were out of control.
“I think the dog would have grabbed the first kid, rather than the one who broke the window,” she said.
Merritt RCMP arrived approximately 15 minutes later. Two of the suspects allegedly fled, including the person suspected of breaking the window. One of the suspects was arrested for public drunkenness after he allegedly rammed his head into a second window and into various stationary objects outside the shop.
But the police are still looking for the person who broke the window.
“We do have a suspect on that file and we are investigating,” said Cpl. Doug Stone of the Merritt RCMP. “The investigator is looking to track down the person that was named as a suspect.”
Stone said the area is often riddled with drunk people most weekends, but this doesn’t often result in vandalism.
This time, however, when vandals broke the window, two display vases were smashed as well.
“It was loud. It was very loud,” Gustafson said.
Keys estimated the damage at nearly $600 and has chiseled that amount into a board, which now stands in place of the glass.
He also carved in the name of the person he says broke the window.
“Until a cheque comes through my door for that amount, the sign stays up,” Keys said.
The owners didn’t have insurance for the window because it would have cost nearly $1,000 per year.
“This is the first window we’ve had smashed in the two years we’ve been here,” Gustafson noted.
She said there was a rave the night of the crime and she assumed the vandals arrived from there.
Several other windows have been smashed at businesses in the community, including Purity Feeds, Davis Leather and the Merritt Library — all happened in March.
Several businesses throughout town have installed shutters that they can close at night to prevent people from breaking the windows.