‘Trees hurt him first,’ says suspect in West Jordan vandalism case

SALT LAKE CITY -- A man has been arrested for vandalizing multiple trees in West Jordan earlier this month. The suspect told police the trees hurt him first, so he fought back, breaking branches.

"It's sad when people come out and destroy things just to destroy things," said Coby Jones of West Jordan.

This month more than 50 trees were snapped, broken and pulled apart inside Veterans Memorial park and along 2200 West, according to police.

"People put a lot of effort into putting those trees in and it's too bad somebody would be so mean to just come through and destroy them," said Sarah Jones of West Jordan.

The average tree costs about $750. When you add up the trail of dead limbs that's over $35,000 in damage.

"It's not OK for people to think they can get away with that kind of stuff," Sarah Jones said.

Thanks to a tip from the public, police were able to track down the man they believe to be responsible, 24-year-old Wesley Pettis of West Jordan.

"It was pretty apparent that he was likely under the influence of a controlled substance of some sort," said Lt. Richard Bell of the West Jordan Police. "He made the comment toward officers during the course of the interview that the trees would hurt him and that made him angry so he would break off the branches."

Police say Pettis admitted to damaging at least four of the trees. They also found evidence connecting him to the crime scene.

"There were also several tree limbs in the bed of his pickup truck that were of the same type of tree as the ones that have been damaged," Bell said.

Pettis is facing charges of criminal mischief, a third-degree felony. Police are still investigating just how many trees he may have damaged.

"To have somebody caught and to have them prosecuted for things they've done it's great to know there is some justice that's been done," said Coby Jones.