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July 20, 2017

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Man accused of vandalizing petroglyphs while shooting paintballs

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Courtesy Lake Mead National Recreation Area

A 20-year-old Bullhead City, Ariz., man suspected of vandalizing petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area was cited by National Park Service rangers on March 19. Four petroglyph panels and numerous rock faces were defaced with paint.

Petroglyphs vandalized

Vandalized petroglyphs

An Arizona man was cited by park rangers in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for allegedly shooting paintballs and defacing four petroglyph panels and numerous rock faces with paint.

The 20-year-old Bullhead City man and a 13-year-old boy were shooting paintballs March 19 at Grapevine Canyon. The National Park Service is coordinating a cleanup effort with area tribes.

A 911 caller reported that kids were shooting paintballs in the canyon. Park rangers responded and contacted a man at the Grapevine Canyon trailhead parking lot, Lake Mead National Recreation Area spokesman Andrew Munoz said.

An investigation led them to suspect that the man was responsible for the red and green paint splatters in the canyon.

The man was issued citations for defacing/disturbing an archeological resource, using and discharging a weapon, littering and vandalism. He was released, but will be required to appear before a federal magistrate. Authorities weren't releasing his name pending the filing of formal charges.

“This area in particular is incredibly sensitive and sacred to the Native American tribes of the Lower Colorado River. It’s unimaginable to think of someone having a paintball fight in the Sistine Chapel; however from the perspective of local tribal members that’s what happened here,” said Rosie Pepito, chief of cultural resource management for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, in a statement.

Penalties can include a year in jail and fines up to $100,000. Violators can also be held responsible for restitution and reimbursement of costs associated with cleanup.

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