BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Old wounds have yet to heal for a Belle Glade mother who lost her son, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy, after he was hit by another deputy during a high speed chase.
Now she is trying to understand why anyone would vandalize a memorial to honor her son and his partner, who was also killed.
For the last four years, along SR 715, the memorial of Deputy Jonathan Wallace and Deputy Donta Manuel stood without undisturbed. That changed Tuesday.
"The signs had been bent totally, the flowers were thrown into the canal," said reverend Patricia Wallace.
Deputy Jonathan Wallace's mother, Patricia, says a friend driving by noticed the memorial had been damaged. She calls the vandalism pointless and intentional.
"To remember them is something special for us, but to see someone who may or may not know them do that, it makes no sense to me, no sense," said Wallace.
Wallace called the sheriff's office, the very agency her son and his partner worked for, to investigate.
Wallace and Manuel were killed November 28, 2007, after another deputy in his patrol car hit and killed them. Deputy Gregorio Fernandez and Deputy Sheriff Usblado Lara were in a high speed chase involving a stolen vehicle.
Manuel and Wallace used stop sticks to pierce the tires of the suspect's stolen vehicle. It worked, but in what Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw later called a fatal mistake, Wallace and Manuel tried to remove the stop sticks before the deputies in pursuit ran over them. That's when they were hit and killed.
The family calls the vandalism to their memorial disrespectful and are hoping a more permanent memorial can be placed in honor of the deputies. A memorial that vandals cannot destroy.
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