Soldiers' graves desecrated during ‘hate crime'

Soldiers' graves pushed over at national cemetery

BUSHNELL, Fla. - Thirteen graves belonging to American soldiers were desecrated over the weekend in Bushnell at the Florida National Cemetery, according to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

The graves were pushed over to a 45-degree angle. Three graves were targeted one day, then 10 more were targeted the next.

The Florida National Cemetery is the eternal resting place for thousands of American soldiers who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The sheriff's office is investigating this as a hate crime, because all 13 gravestones that were targeted belonged to Jewish soldiers. The Star of David was located on each of the 13 tombs.

"It boggles my mind," said Kurt Rotar, director of the Florida National Cemetery. "I don't see how someone could get pleasure out of doing something like that."

The sheriff's office is investigating but currently does not have any leads, according to Lt. Bobby Caruthers.

If they do catch the people who did this, they would face a second-degree felony rather than a third-degree felony. The punishment would be enhanced because this is considered a hate crime.

If you have information about what happened, call Det. Brian Wilson at (352) 569-1616 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.

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