By: Leah Alsept, additional reporting by Ethan Hockaday
15 cars were vandalized late Thursday night behind the Davis Street Building on UF’s campus
Psychology and Occupational Therapy major Reagan Ward drove herself and her roommate back to their dorm at 9 p.m. Thursday night and turned in the only parking spot open for her adjacent the Davis Building, closest to their dorm in Bear. The next morning, Ward was lifeguarding at the Croy Gymnasium. Like most other students who were hit by the vandalism, she got a call around 11:45 a.m. informing her that her car had either been egged, spray painted, or a combination of both.
“I walked to like the row that my car was in and I was seeing like a bunch of spray paint on like the hoods of cars and everything,” she recounted the event. “Fortunately, I did not have any spray paint on my car. I just had a bunch of egg everywhere. Like if you had spray paint on your car… you have to drive around with that to like go get it cleaned or to go get it fixed and stuff. And that would be awful.”
Dalton Rhinebolt drives the car next to where she was parked. He had “Sinners must be punished” written on his hood in black spray paint. He’s a Pre-Vet/Animal Science first-year at Findlay. He said he’s not involved in any Christian clubs on campus so he’s unsure why the graffiti had a religious undertone. He wants go home and get his paint fixed.
“My car was right next to his,” Ward said. “Like his was the start of like all the vandalism and mine was right next to it. I was just so amazed that they only spray-painted certain cars and not all of them.”
Other cars had phrases like “Rawr,” “Hi,” “Hi D—,” “F— You,” scrawled all over their cars in the black spray paint. Some students had their headlights covered. Others had egg all over the windshield and on the top of their cars. In total, 15 cars were hit that night.
Later that Friday afternoon, a campus-wide UF Update was sent from Campus Police. Attached was an image of the two individuals who Campus Police thought were connected to the incident. The first individual in the photo wore a red sweatshirt with white lettering and a mask in their hand. The second person, driving a cart full of items, wore a hat pulled over their head and a mask. The two looked to be inside a Walmart grocery store. Campus police plead with the Oiler community to contact their office if they knew who the individuals are.
And just like that, the duo in the image were identified in just two hours. Campus Police released a statement over the Oiler Mobile App affirming the two had been identified.
Campus Police said that the incident happened in the nighttime so the security cameras didn’t catch much. Left behind was a “Great Value” brand bag which led them to the Walmart security cameras, capturing the two in the store. Campus Police were also the ones to initially find the damage to the cars.
Ward is a transfer student and this is her first-year on campus. She has no enemies she can think of, so she knew she couldn’t have been targeted solely.
“I was just very shocked. The more I think about it, I feel like it would be… I know high schoolers ride around here and like walk around campus all the time. Maybe it would be them,” she speculated.
“I feel like as college kids for as much money that we’re spending for college here, like you would realize that you shouldn’t do that,” Ward added.
After all that’s happened, Ward isn’t sure if she’ll park somewhere else on campus.
“Because I hate watching the far distance, but then I’m like, ‘Are they going to move to other parking lots? Did they hit this one and then move to the next one?’” She laughed.
One thing that the Campus Police needs from the students that were hit are the damage estimates from their respective insurances. Ward said the individuals who did it are going to be charged with the damages. She’s just thankful she didn’t get the brunt of the hit.
“But I was very fortunate. I was expecting a lot worse,” Ward said.
Photo credit: Leah Alsept and Ethan Hockaday.