A playground dedicated to a Sandy Hook victim was vandalized earlier this month.
While police investigate, residents are trying to raise money, not only to replace it, but make sure it never happens again.
The iconic green little army man was one of Jesse Lewis' favorite toys, but the statue at his playground on West Beach was busted into a number of pieces.
A family noticed the vandalism last week and notified the city. They decided something more needed to be done, especially knowing who this is for and what it represents.
"I would have never thought that somebody would have a heart to do that,” Kellie Cooke, of Stamford, said. “It’s so disrespectful and disgusting."
Cooke said she along with her mother were down at West Beach, decorating a bench dedicated to her grandmother for the upcoming Easter holiday. That's when they noticed the vandalism at the playground celebrating the life of Sandy Hook victim.
"To replace something that stands for so much, is really what we're trying to do here,” Cooke said.
The small concrete statue of a green army soldier is now in a number of pieces. Its legs were missing and its head was nearly off.
The soldier was put up as part of Jesse’s playground, which is one of 26 built across the tri-state area by volunteers with the Sandy Ground Project, Where Angels Play.
"I think it’s a shame because this whole thing stands for love, that somebody would actually do that,” Diane Calka, of Stamford, said.
Cooke said she started a GoFundMe page to replace the concrete figure with something sturdier such as a bronze statue. Any money left over would go to the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation.
His mother started the nonprofit with the goal of teaching school kids about the three words Jesse wrote on a chalkboard in his family's kitchen, nurturing, healing and love, while focusing on forgiveness and compassion.
In a statement to Eyewitness News, Scarlett Lewis released a statement on the incident.
"This malicious act was done in anger. Until we give our children the tools they need to manage stress and their emotions we will continue to see anger and violence in our society. When we respond in anger that only matches the energy and does not provide a solution,” Scarlett Lewis said.
"The amount of love and support being shown to us and Jesse's family is outstanding,” Cooke said. “No words for how grateful."
Anyone with information is asked to call Stamford Police Department at 203-977-4444.
To donate to the GoFundMe page raising money to replace the statue, click here.
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