UPDATE: An arrest was made in the arson case at Tinsley Park, the most popular playground in the city of Cleveland.
Bradley County Sheriff's Office says they arrested Michael Allen Lippencott on two warrants; Arson and Misdemeanor Violation of Probation. The arson warrant was in relation to the Tinsley Park incident.
Bradley County Sheriff's Office says they are not the prosecuting agency, they only served the warrant on Thursday.
Stay with Channel 3 as this story develops. ?
PREVIOUS STORY: The most popular playground in the city of Cleveland was destroyed by vandals over the weekend. Fire investigators said three people set fire to the playground late Sunday night at Tinsley Park, off Keith Street. Damages are estimated at more than one hundred thousand dollars.
It wasn't the first time the park was hit by vandals, park officials said earlier in the week someone set trash cans on fire. Investigators said the suspects gathered leaves and other debris and placed it around the playground. They then set the debris on fire and it spread to the equipment.
It's a tough conversation for Heather Blackwell to have with her four year old daughter Zoey. Zoey isn't able to slide down her favorite slide, or climb the monkey bars at Tinsley Park in Cleveland. “I just told her some people aren't nice people and there are bad people who do bad things. Unfortunately someone did a bad thing to your play place and we can't go there anymore,” said Blackwell.
Yellow fire tape surrounds the playground, the Cleveland City Fire Marshal and investigators search the area for clues. A security camera captured footage of the arson, but authorities said the video is grainy and dark. They said it shows three people intentionally setting the jungle gym on fire. “No ignition sources around in the woods. No electricity, nothing that could ignite by itself,” said Fire Marshal Ben Atchley.
Recently, the playground was upgraded thanks to a two hundred thousand dollar grant. “This affected nobody but children and their families. To destroy something that belongs to kids is pretty bad,” said Blackwell.
Park Director, Patty Petitt takes this personally; the park is named in honor of her father, Kenneth Tinsley. “I just want to cry, it makes me very sad for the children and community. It will get rebuilt as soon as possible,” said Petitt.
For now families have to make do with what they have until the playground can be replaced. Luckily children still have a place to play the surrounding playground wasn't damaged by the flames. “We are fortunate, it is a wooded area. The wind wasn't blowing, the fire didn't move from the playground to the surrounding woods,” said the fire marshal.
If you have any information about the people responsible you are asked to contact the Cleveland Police or Cleveland Fire Department.