HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s a side of the state government shutdown that we haven’t heard about, until now. State Parks are being vandalized, according to local police, and one of the latest is Afton State Park, on the east side of the Twin Cities, along the St. Croix River.

Up to a dozen people were arrested and police are still looking for one more person in connection with the burglary and vandalism incident on Monday at Afton.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of suspicious activity at about 11:30 a.m. Monday at Afton State Park, located in the 6900 block of Peller Avenue South. When authorities arrived, they found that at least three buildings had been burglarized.

“This particular event would not have occurred if the park had been open,” said Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton. He believes a crowd during the Fourth of July would have deterred the kind of vandalism his deputies found at the park.

Two cabins were broke into. One of those cabins had major damage, said Hutton. Shingles were torn off and steps were removed. The place was “ransacked,” in his words, and then the vandals burned the items. They also broke into the park office at Afton. Electronics were taken and later burned.

Hutton described writings that his deputies found on a wall of a cabin.

“There were personal messages and also derogatory statements towards law enforcement,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know why the group allegedly did the damage over the weekend.

Police arrested 11 adults and one juvenile at the scene, all between the ages of 17 and 23 years old. Authorities said all of them could be charged with third-degree burglary and felony damage to property. Police are still looking for one more suspect in connection with the incident.

Dutton says the vandals broke through the gate at the entrance to the park. He believes the group was there Sunday night and stayed overnight. Sheriff Dutton wasn’t sure of the relationship between all the alleged vandals, but he said they’re from Twin Cities suburbs, including Inver Grove Heights, Rosemount, and Minnetonka.

Boy Scouts from Troop 908 in West St. Paul were hiking through the park on Tuesday night. They were training for a high adventure trip in Denver, Colo.

“To have something like that happen is a tragedy for all of us,” said Scout leader Todd Nelson. “It’s a State Park, so it’s all of our parks. It’s sad somebody had to come in and do that.”

Nelson said he teaches his Scouts, some of whom have achieved Eagle Scout, about caring for their environment and their parks.

“They care about the parks too,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll instill in them about nature and taking care of stuff.”

Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 651-430-7800.

Comments (30)
  1. Joe Hanson says:

    Thanks Washington County Sheriffs!

    Governor Mark Dayton, too incompetent to lead.

    1. Beer Guzzling Redneck says:

      What a pointless comment. If your KKK buddies weren’t so busy trying to keep gays from being married, which should not be an issue for the state to even address, then this would already be over. But no. Social engineering and religious pork is what they tried to give us instead.

      1. Woods good - in him, not me says:

        Okay – I am in.
        Why the KKK comment Guzzler?
        I’m a guzzler too and a Christian and I don’t want gays getting married either. Civil union – okay. Married – absolutely never. Sorry

        1. Beer Guzzling Redneck says:

          Nobody cares what your opinion is on gays getting married. You shouldn’t get a voice in the matter if you’re not gay. The christian part makes no difference either. I will not follow your bible’s rules and you can’t force me or anybody else to.

      2. See BS says:

        Democrats are the only party with Ku Klux Klan history.

        I know many people who have had their cabins broken into and it didn’t make the news.

        People hardly notice the government is shut down, too bad it’s not the end of the world.

        1. Sean says:

          Trent Lott giving a speech to them is OK?
          If Robert Byrd were starting out today with his views today, he would be a Republican.
          Is everyone that has ancestors that owned slaves still culpable?
          While we are at it. All republicans must be crooks because the Republicans are the only ones every convicted of bribery while in the white house.



  3. Beer Guzzling Redneck says:

    The morons who did this should be set on fire, and the fire put out with a pavement leveler.

  4. dropdowndeals says:

    If the park is closed, just get everyone inside with burgarly, in park after hours, tresspessing, and anything else that applies!

  5. Dogbert says:

    Great job officers!

  6. we says:

    What a bunch of LOSERS,light them up and watch them burn like human candles!!!!!!!

  7. TW says:

    Probably someone grew up not sharing their toys and taking them from other kids when they weren’t looking. So when the park is not staffed that means everything is free, NOT. 12 people, holy moly, like a bunch of viking marauders. Did they have their boat tied up down at the St. Croix?

  8. Clint wants 'em gone says:

    I expect them to pay tab to repair, time in jail and I demand upgrades on all that was damaged.
    When they done with all then release them on a game farm so we all can get some target practice in. I’m even willing to just use a shotgun vs rifle and scope and bet many more will agree to same.

  9. Patrick Wells says:

    We need the rule of law and government. Getting rid of government results in vandalism and chaos.

  10. trl the alligator says:

    this SHOULD NOT cost the taxpayers a dime…..every one of those malcontents should be made to pay restitution and 100% of the costs associated with these criminal actions IN ADDITION to some incarceration.

    1. fred says:

      now would be a good time for public flogging to make a comeback…….these loosers need a good horsewhipping. .

  11. liam Gilmorasy says:

    When I was 9 I broke a neighbor’s window out of anger.
    My father replaced the window.. then I was forced to get up at 6 on Saturdays and Sundays and work on a construction site all day until I payed it off with interest.
    It was an affective method of learning.
    I suspect these people won’t pay a dime and have a suspended sentence.
    They destroyed tax payers property… MY property.
    They probably shouldn’t be killed for it (though considering there age they are not going to change. So maybe they should and just be done with it.).
    But, by God, they should be FORCED to pay for it with interest and quickly too.
    If not in cash or labor then by donating a kidney or some such organ.

  12. Steve says:

    And who pays for their act of destruction? We the tax payer’s…

  13. Darren says:

    Two questions?

    What was suspicious about people being in a park at 1130 in the morning (besides the fact that is was closed) and who was in the park to see this “suspicious activity” that called 911 to report them, sounds to me like someone else committed a crime, the caller.

    Let them all be punished for breaking the law.

    1. Beer Guzzling Redneck says:

      I used to live on property adjoining to the park. It’s pretty easy to see when people are there, right from private property next to it.

  14. MIke says:

    Youthful indiscretions are timeless. They will have their day in court and the Washington Co. Sheriffs can eat their donuts. Their is nothing political going on, and no, they shouldn’t be torched like a candle.

  15. Laurie says:

    Its summer and these pukes are bored! Throw the book and no mercy. Wat to goo Sheriffs! As for BG Redneck. I agree with you….too much time spent on the issue of gay marriage with no solution ever. That is why there should be NEW law for gay marriages. Afterall, laws are made all the time, why not for this. Wouldn’t you agree?

    1. Beer Guzzling Redneck says:

      I don’t know why there needs to be any laws about it at all. Why can’t people go to the court house and marry anybody they love who says yes?

      Why are death row inmates allowed to marry other death row inmates of the opposite sex over the phone, hours before they’re executed?

      1. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

        I see you, Mr. Franklin. Tsk, tsk, tsk…

  16. what up says:

    It was probably the mexican thugs.

  17. Lost at the message we are teaching says:

    WOW, I am appalled at most of these comments. I mean wow, some sound just as bad as the kids that committed the crime of vandalism. They are punk kids who need taught a lesson- they should have to pay for the damage they caused and also help clean up the damages they did along with so many extra hours of community service. Kids need boundaries, even some immature young adults who haven’t adapted to living as an adult and following adult laws. Holding a person accountable and making them fix what they messed up, out of their own pockets is more of a lesson than bitter anger and destructive comments.

    1. Sean says:

      They are all over 18,. They are adults, not kids.

    2. fred says:

      I still say a public flogging is the answer. that way the message is loud and clear.

  18. Bently says:

    Silly people that think God will handle this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

  19. Primetime Editorials says:

    these little idiots
    i hope the judge comes down off the bench and eco-friendly slaps the hell out them

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