AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Fire Department has released a video of a suspect they say lit the “Ganador” the grackle sculpture at City Hall on fire and left.
AFD says around 5:30 a.m. Monday, fire crews were dispatched to City Hall for a reported trash fire. A caller reported an art piece made of tires was on fire. Crews were able to extinguish the flames but not before the statue was completely destroyed. AFD estimates the damage at $5,000.
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Based on eyewitness information and a subsequent field identification, AFD Arson Investigators had initially arrested a suspect, but, after seeing video footage of the fire once City Hall opened for the day, that suspect was released. The current suspect, seen on video lighting the statue on fire and then leaving the area, is described as a white male between 55-70 years old with a full head of white hair and last seen wearing a grey/white long sleeve top and dark pants.
On Monday night, AFD said they had identified a "person of interest" in the case -- but no arrests had been made.
"I just couldn’t believe somebody would be out here in the open and come up and set it on fire -- it just seemed -- they weren’t trying to hide or anything, it just seems crazy," said Ed Bell, who walks past the statue every day for work.
The sculpture's artist, Christy Stallop, tweeted that she is "heartbroken."
The name "Ganador" means "winner" in Spanish. The sculpture was one of several sponsored by the city during its TEMPO 2019 project. According to Stallop's website, the sculpture was eight feet tall, and nine feet long. It was made of polystyrene and up-cycled tires from Austin's Yellow Bike Project.
"It’s hard to understand what the rationale would be for destroying somebody else's artistic creation," said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call AFD’s Arson Investigations office at 512-974-0240 or Capital Area Crimestoppers at 1-800-893-TIPS (8477).