MANCHESTER, N.H. - A man accused of urinating on a World War II veterans memorial faced a judge Thursday.
Investigators say before police showed up, a large crowd had gathered around the man at the memorial and were yelling at him to stop. Those same witnesses cheered when police put the man in handcuffs.
The World War II memorial in the corner of Veterans Park is engraved with the name of fallen heroes.
"This is a special memorial for veterans, this is something that people consider to be sacred," Manchester Police spokesperson Heather Hamel said.
But police say Yeudefeliz Cepeda De La Cruz displayed no such reverence for the monument
"Two police on a foot patrol on Elm Street near Veterans Park noticed what they believe to be a man urinating on a Marble Memorial inside the park," Hamel said.
Police say witnesses tried to intervene, “staring and yelling” at Cepeda De La Cruz to stop, “disturbed by his behavior.”
"They were clapping when police officers were able to take him into custody," said Hamel.
Cepeda De La Cruz told the officers, “I didn’t know I couldn’t go there,” according to court documents
"I don’t know what was going through his head, but there’s a lot of things happening to him right now," Cepeda De La Cruz's brother, who declined to be identified specifically, said. "People don’t understand that he has mental problems and stuff."
He told Boston 25 News his brother has schizophrenia and didn't intend disrespect.
Francis Roux’s father was an army veteran and she was disgusted by what police say unfolded here.
"It’s very disrespectful, these Army guys are fighting for us to have freedom, and they died for it," Roux said.
Before his arrest at the memorial, Cepeda De La Cruz had just been released from police custody for an assault charge.
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