H-ATASCADERO

Jan 3, 2014 8:31 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Man who says he vandalized memorial behind bars

Atascadero police say the person responsible for damaging the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial in Atascadero on Wednesday has turned himself in.

Sean Cronin, 49, of Atascadero, turned himself in late Thursday night and told police the incident was unintentional. However, investigators are taking a close look at his story and the surveillance video that captured the incident on camera.

Police say on New Year's Day, Cronin drove his Chevrolet pickup through the middle of the memorial, causing nearly $15,000 in damage.

"He says he didn't do it on purpose," said Sgt. Caleb Davis of the Atascadero Police Department. "He says he unintentionally got started in the direction and didn't know how to get out of there."

Evidence at the scene shows the truck drove over a curb before spinning its tires and plowing into two 600 pound benches with enough force to rip them from the ground.

Police also said Cronin was driving on a suspended license and in violation of his probation. Court documents show Cronin was on probation for child abuse, and he has two prior cases of driving on a suspended license, as well as a DUI charge from 1999.

They say it's impossible to know whether Cronin was intoxicated on Wednesday because too much time has passed since the incident.

Police credit the circulation of the surveillance videos from the memorial in Cronin's arrest.

"I think with the media that was out there and press release that was sent out and the video clips, sometimes people's conscience just gets to them," said Sgt. Davis.

Cronin is in the San Luis Obispo County Jail tonight and will most likely face misdemeanor charges of hit and run. He will also have to pay for the damages he caused. Police have impounded Cronin's vehicle for further investigation.

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