Three men were arrested for causing thousands of dollars in damage to a bridge and roadway outside of Ephrata.
West Earl Township Police arrested, Michael Stoltzfus, 21, of Bird-in-Hand, John Kauffman, 19, of Upper Leacock and Matthew Reiff, 19, of Newville, Cumberland County, on Jan. 28 after being caught in the act vandalizing the Route 222 overpass bridge on Miley Road.
According to police:
Sgt. Jordan Byrnes was on routine patrol around 10 p.m. when he came across a vehicle parked on Miley Road on the Route 222 overpass. The officer pulled up and observed three males standing outside the vehicle and quickly put something in the trunk and closed it.
When Byrnes exited his vehicle, he observed fresh spray-painted graffiti on the bridge road surface and on the walls of the bridge. The officer also observed several spray paint cans sitting on the bridge matching the same color as the fresh graffiti, and he could smell the odor of fresh spray paint.
The graffiti included several “anti-police” sayings and images, including ACAB, a prominent acronym used in the BLM and antifa protests and riots of 2020 standing for “All cops are b—–ds.” Other graffiti messages included “I don’t wanna be here,” “Black Panther” and “Ghost Rider 392.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimated the cost to remove the graffiti to be more than $4,000.
Police said the relatively remote location is the frequent sight for illegal activities, including criminal mischief to the overpass, illegal dumping and illegal drug activity. West Earl Township Police have increased patrol of the area in response to the incidents of vandalism to the bridge and roadway.
An on-scene investigation by Byrnes led to the arrests of all three individuals. The suspects were transported to the West Earl Township Police Department where they were processed and released.
All three suspects were charged with criminal mischief, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Reiff was also charged with possession of an anabolic steroid. They are scheduled to have a preliminary hearing before Judge Jonathan W. Heisse on Feb. 24.
Kauffman was already facing felony charges of robbery, criminal trespass and conspiracy for an incident that took place Dec. 22 in Ephrata. He was released on $25,000 unsecured bail on Jan. 23, less than a week before the vandalism incident.
Reiff faces a felony charge of accessing a device used to obtain a service for an incident on Dec. 15 in Penn Township, Cumberland County.