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Year in Review: Veteran’s memorial stolen and then recovered


The Kent County  Sheriff Department found the stolen monument and arrested suspects in the crime within days of its disappearance. Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

The Kent County Sheriff Department found the stolen monument and arrested suspects in the crime within days of its disappearance. Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

By Judy Reed

The monument dedicated to the memory of fallen hero SPC. Timothy Brown was stolen in October from Veterans Park, and suspects in the case were arrested within days by the Kent County Sheriff Department.

The Brown family discovered the monument was missing Saturday, October 22, and called police. Thieves broke the statue, taking the helmet, rifle, and dog tags. Only the boots were left on the memorial stone. The family appealed to the public to have the suspects return the statue, no questions asked, but it did not appear.

The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

Police suspected the same culprits took the statue as broke into concessions at Skinner Field just a day prior. They posted surveillance footage of the break-in, featuring three young males, and asked media to share the photos. Within days, suspects in the thefts were arrested.

Police found the statue in a shed on the property of Tracy Lyn Coleman, 45, in the 100 block of E. Muskegon, along with several items in the home from the Skinner Field break-in.

Police arrested David Edgar Sommerville, 17, Austin Lee Coleman, 20, and Justin Lynn Rossman, 27, all of Cedar Springs, on Thursday, October 27. All three were charged in the Skinner Field break-in, and Sommerville and Rossman were charged with the monument theft. The older Coleman was arrested the next day on receiving and concealing stolen property. He reportedly admitted to police that he knew the rifle and helmet were stored in his shed, and that he had told one of the defendants to get it out of there. Rossman reportedly told police that Sommerville stole the rifle and helmet and hid them in the storage shed.

“We are proud of the work of our investigators as they worked tirelessly to bring SPC Brown’s Monument back into safe hands,” said the Kent County Sheriff Department in an announcement on their Facebook page.

Once the statue was recovered, DPW Director Tom Stressman had it repaired by a business in Minnesota that specializes in bronze monuments and memorials honoring law enforcement, fire/rescue, and the military.

City Manager Mike Womack said it would cost the city about $500 to have the $10,000 monument repaired, and they would probably seek to recover that cost as part of restitution on the part of the suspects.

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Timothy Brown monument repaired


The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

The monument dedicated to SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and restored to its rightful place in Veterans Park. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The monument dedicated to the memory of fallen hero SPC. Timothy Brown has been repaired and was reinstalled at its home in Veterans Park in Cedar Springs last week.

The Brown family discovered the monument was missing Saturday, October 22, and called police. Thieves broke the statue, taking the helmet, rifle, and dog tags. Only the boots were left on the memorial stone. The family appealed to the public to have the suspects return the statue, no questions asked, but it did not appear.

Police suspected the same culprits took the statue as broke into concessions at Skinner Field just a day prior. They posted surveillance footage of the break-in, featuring three young males, and asked media to share the photos. Within days, suspects in the thefts were arrested.

Police found the statue in a shed on the property of Tracy Lyn Coleman, 45, in the 100 block of E. Muskegon, along with several items in the home from the Skinner Field break-in.

Police arrested David Edgar Sommerville, 17, Austin Lee Coleman, 20, and Justin Lynn Rossman, 27, all of Cedar Springs, on Thursday, October 27. All three were charged in the Skinner Field break-in, and Sommerville and Rossman were charged with the monument theft. The older Coleman was arrested the next day on receiving and concealing stolen property. He reportedly admitted to police that he knew the rifle and helmet were stored in his shed, and that he had told one of the defendants to get it out of there. Rossman reportedly told police that Sommerville stole the rifle and helmet and hid them in the storage shed.

Once the statue was recovered, DPW Director Tom Stressman had it repaired by a business in Minnesota that specializes in bronze monuments and memorials honoring law enforcement, fire/rescue, and the military.

City Manager Mike Womack had earlier said it would cost the city about $500 to have the $10,000 monument repaired, and they would probably seek to recover that cost as part of restitution on the part of the suspects.

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Police recover fallen soldier’s monument, arrest suspects


The Kent County Sheriff Department has recovered the stolen monument dedicated to fallen soldier Timothy Brown and arrested three suspects in connection with that crime and others.

The Kent County Sheriff Department has recovered the stolen monument dedicated to fallen soldier Timothy Brown and arrested three suspects in connection with that crime and others. Photo courtesy of the KCSD.

by Judy Reed

 

Four Cedar Springs men were arrested last week in connection with two acts of theft and vandalism that recently occurred in the city.

Three of the men—David Edgar Sommerville, 17, Austin Lee Coleman, 20, and Justin Lynn Rossman, 27—were arrested Thursday, October 27, for a break-in at Skinner Field, and the theft and desecration of the monument of fallen hero SPC. Timothy Brown from Veterans Park. A fourth man, Tracy Lyn Coleman, 45, the father of Austin Coleman, was arrested on Friday October 28.

JUSTIN ROSSMAN

JUSTIN ROSSMAN

TRACY LYN COLEMAN

TRACY LYN COLEMAN

AUSTIN COLEMAN

AUSTIN COLEMAN

DAVID SOMMERVILLE

DAVID SOMMERVILLE

The break-in at Skinner Field was discovered Friday morning, October 21. Pieces of cooking equipment were taken from the concessions stand, as well as food items. The suspects also took items out of the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and scattered them all over the floor. Other buildings on the property were also broken into.

The Brown family discovered the monument was missing Saturday, October 22, and called police. They also appealed to the public to have the suspects return the statue, no questions asked, but that never happened.

Police took video from the trail cam at Skinner Field and displayed video and photos of the suspects on their Facebook page and distributed the information to media, who also posted the photos online. Police received several tips in the investigation, which helped them to identify the three suspects shown in the video.

Police obtained a search warrant for a home owned by Tracy Lyn Coleman, in the 100 block of E. Muskegon. They found several items in the home from the Skinner Field break-in, and the stolen monument was also found on the property.

After they completed the search, they arrested David Sommerville, 17, and Austin Coleman, 20. The search then led them to arrest Justin Rossman, 27, who resided at Red Flannel Acres on Maple Street.

The three were arraigned on charges of breaking and entering a building with intent (for the Skinner Field break-in), and Rossman and Sommerville were also both charged with receiving and concealing stolen property worth more than $1,000 but not more than $20,000 (in relation to the stealing of the monument). Rossman is also being charged as a habitual offender.

On October 28, police arrested Tracy Lyn Coleman and he was arrested for receiving and concealing stolen property. He reportedly admitted to police that he knew the rifle and helmet were stored in his shed, and that he had told one of the defendants to get it out of there. Rossman reportedly told police that Sommerville stole the rifle and helmet and hid them in the storage shed.

“We are proud of the work of our investigators as they worked tirelessly to bring SPC Brown’s Monument back into safe hands,” said the Kent County Sheriff Department in an announcement on their Facebook page.

The Brown family is relieved that the monument has been found. “It’s great news!” said Dan Brown, who is Tim Brown’s uncle and the man who helped create Veterans Park and Tim’s monument. “I’m glad it’s back. The Kent County Sheriff Department did a great job.”

The community raised $10,000 in donations several years ago to fund the creation of the monument for Timothy Brown, who died in November 2005 in Iraq (see his memorial on page 5). Residents were outraged when they heard the monument had been stolen, and not only shared the suspect photos, but offered the Browns their support. “The community has been great,” remarked Dan Brown. “There has been such an outpouring of people just asking what they can do to help.”

According to Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack, the monument is city property, so they will pay to have it repaired. “We have been in contact with someone to fix the monument, which will cost the city approximately $500. We are thankful to the Sheriff’s department for the recovery of the monument that was stolen, otherwise it would’ve cost the City approximately $10,000 to replace,” he explained. “We will likely pay the $500 out of pocket and then seek restitution as part of any sentencing that might occur with the three individuals who were arrested for the crime.”

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