UPDATE: Early morning vandalism leaves Lakota Coffee Co. splattered in paint, following string of previous incidents

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 6:08 p.m. CDT; updated 7:21 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 21, 2014
Jon DuCharme, a son of the owner of Lakota Coffee Co., 24 S. Ninth St., places a ladder before wiping off debris from vandalism that occurred early Friday morning. Employees of Servicemaster of Columbia were on location to clean up glass from two broken windows. "There's obviously damage in the awning that's not going to be repairable," said Reggie Kinser, Servicemaster project manager. "It's just going to have to be replaced. It's a lot more damaging. You think it's just some paint on there to clean up, but when you're dealing with an older structure of brick like that, it's really an ordeal to get it cleaned up."

COLUMBIA — Bright red paint was splattered on the awning and walls of Lakota Coffee Co. on Ninth Street on Friday after an early-morning vandalism spree.

Shop windows were also broken. Servicemaster of Columbia was called around 6 a.m. to clean up the mess, said Reggie Kinser Servicemaster project manager.

Kinser said he suspects glass bottles filled with paint were thrown against the brick wall because shards of glass were found on top of the awning.

The Columbia Police Department reported receiving a call at 3:58 a.m. Friday by someone passing by the store. The police investigation continues.

Kinser said there is no estimate of the damager, but it will be evaluated by square footage once the clean-up is complete. He did note that cleaning oil-based paint off the brick wall and awning is a complicated process that requires either chemicals or ice blasting.

Andrew DuCharme, general manager of Lakota, said he believes the act was deliberate because “no one just carries around paint.”

This incident seems to be the latest in a vandalism trend in The District. In the last month, several other downtown businesses have reported property damage.

Lee Sensintaffar, co-owner of Iron Tiger Tattoo, 11 N. Tenth St., said the windows were shattered on April 5 and graffiti sprayed on the outside wall. Window repairs cost $600, and repainting the exterior was another $150, he said.

Sensintaffar said the police have not contacted him since officers compiled an initial report.

Gunther’s Games, 923 E. Broadway, encountered similar damage in the same week. Employee Kayla Davis said owner Wes Upchurch received a call from Columbia police at 2 a.m. April 4 about a broken window.

The officer told them police chased suspects down the street before losing them in the downtown bar crowd. Davis estimates that repair costs will be between $500 to $1,000.

On April 10, a rock shattered the front window of Coffee Zone, 11 N. Ninth St., according to film taken by an ABC17 crew.

Two doors from Lakota, owner Leigh Lockhart said Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe,  28 S. Ninth St., reported three incidents of vandalism in the last five years – the last on Oct. 19.  She said she has paid $500 to replace the windows every time.

“As a business owner, it’s heartbreaking,” Lockhart said. “It’s a horrible phone call to get.”

Lockhart said additional late police patrols in the area might reduce the number of incidents.

Despite the mess, Lakota opened as usual Friday. On the Main Squeeze Facebook page Friday, Lockhart encouraged her patrons to make a purchase at the coffee shop.

“We’re not going to shut down just because someone decides to do something stupid,” DuCharme said.

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