By Nancy A. Fischer
LOCKPORT – Nearly three months after a memorial bench to honor Spc. Albert R. Jex was vandalized, two Lockport men were charged Tuesday with felony criminal mischief.
Jex, a Lockport native, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2009.
Spencer S. Lupo, 20, of Bob O Link Lane and Garrett Sheehan 19, of Levan Avenue were arrested after detectives received a confidential tip, Lockport police said. Both men were arraigned in Lockport City Court Tuesday and released after posting $2,750 bail each.
A new granite bench, donated by the Orleans Monument Co., was installed earlier this month at a new location, Children’s Memorial Park on Transit Road at Lincoln Avenue. An array of American flags also has been installed. The Lockport Fire Department had been a vital part of the new installation – donating time and materials.
Lupo is the son of Lockport City Firefighter Capt. Thomas E. Lupo. Lockport Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said the elder Lupo had no idea of the connection until his son was brought in for questioning on Monday night.
Jex’s mother, Cathy MacFarlane, was in court for the arraignment and said she was pleased how the community responded.
“In Lockport, there’s a lot of angels that walk among us. So many people came forward and tried to help and find out who did it,” MacFarlane said. “We are a very lucky community to have people like that.”
She praised Peter P. Robinson, who put flags and a spotlight at the old spot after the bench was damaged.
Robinson, who is president of the City of Lockport Fire Department Board of Commissioners, noted the irony of a fireman’s son being held responsible for the vandalism, but praised the firefighters for their efforts to restore the bench.
“I applaud the members of the city firefighters union for helping to restore the bench – it was a labor of love,” Robinson .
MacFarlane said she met with the parents of both boys after court.
“I feel very sorry for the parents for what they are going through, but these [suspects] did something wrong and should pay the piper,” she said.
She said she learned in court that both boys were drunk, but said, “Even when someone is drunk, they should know the difference between right and wrong. I am still scratching my head.
“These were not kids. They did something wrong and should have ’fessed up,” said MacFarlane. “To have waited this long and not come forward – that gets me.”
But she said the community did come forward and the site for the new bench, which honors children, is the “perfect location.”
“It was a bad thing, but the community responded,” Eggert said.
He praised Detective Lt. Brian Wentland and Detective Lt. Kevin Schrader for their efforts to make the arrest.
“I am forever grateful to the Lockport Police because they didn’t just shove it under the table. They did their job,” MacFarlane said. “My son paid the ultimate price.”
Jex, who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas , was killed by a roadside bomb in an attack on February 2009 in Mosul, Iraq.
He was on a security detachment assignment.
News Staff Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska contributed to this report.