Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial

Suffolk County Police

Teen Arrested In Vandalism Of Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial, Cops Say

July 20, 2018 - 1:13 pm

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- A 14-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with destroying a memorial honoring a fallen hero on Long Island, police said.

The plaque honoring Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who died along with 18 others in a gun battle in Afghanistan in June 2005, was found bashed to pieces Thursday at Lake Ronkonkoma, where he once worked as a lifeguard.

Murphy's family was heartbroken and saddened when they learned the memorial was destroyed.

"I felt like, you know, I lost Mike, and then when I saw that I felt like I lost him again," his mother, Maureen, said.

"One of the places where he struck Michael was right at the heart, which is like striking at the heart of America," Murphy's father, Daniel, said.

Daniel Murphy
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

The vandalism was met with outrage, and Daniel Murphy said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

"I don't mean just across the nation, I mean internationally -- from Ireland, Belgium, Italy, England -- all have responded offering both sympathy and support," he said.

The teen was arrested early Friday morning and charged with second-degree criminal mischief. He will be arraigned at Family Court at a later date.

Daniel Murphy said he would like to meet with the teenager and his parents.

"Not for any 'gotcha moment' or anger, but more or less to -- does he understand the significance of what's been done?" he said.

"The boy who did this, he's a child, he did something foolish and everybody has done something foolish when they're younger. I'm sure that they will think of a reasonable way to educate this man and tell him how wrong he was about it," Maureen Murphy said.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state will pay to replace the plaque. 

"Lieutenant Michael Murphy served our nation with extraordinary courage, valor and dignity, and we are all indebted to him and his family for his sacrifice," Cuomo said in a statement. "I am appalled and disgusted by this apparent act of vandalism. The State of New York will fully fund the replacement of the plaque, and I hope this brings comfort to his family and community. The people of this state and this nation owe Lieutenant Murphy a debt of gratitude, and I personally thank him for his service."

Cameras will now be installed at the site. 

Murphy grew up in Patchogue and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the ambush.

Murphy and his four-man team were scouting a known terrorist when their mission was compromised and they were surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad.

During the intense firefight, military officials said Murphy risked his life to save his team, exposing himself to enemy fire so he could radio for help.

The helicopter that rushed to the rescue was shot down, killing all 16 aboard.

Murphy was killed in the two-hour gun battle. He was 29.

Only one man in his squad survived.