Vancouver man suspected of vandalism at deaf and hard-of-hearing - KPTV - FOX 12

Vancouver man suspected of vandalism at deaf and hard-of-hearing center faces judge

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A Vancouver man accused of vandalizing and setting fire to a center for the deaf and hard of hearing faced a judge Monday morning.

The suspect, 20-year-old Justin Smith-Riggs of Vancouver, was charged with arson and burglary, among other crimes.

The judge set his bail at $75,000 after prosecutors said they believe Smith-Riggs is a danger to the community and that he suffers from mental health issues.

Vancouver Police Department officials said Smith-Riggs was found by officers running away from Tilikum Deaf Center early Saturday morning. The officers were responding to reports of an alarm call and said a window of the building was broken and smoke was pouring out.

The incident was the fourth time this year Tilikum, formally known as the Southwest Washington Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, has been struck by vandalism.

Tilikum CEO Terese Rognmo showed FOX 12 the damage Monday. The fire was contained to one small room serving as an office space, but the damage to the equipment, files and computers was significant.

“It is good to know the suspect has been caught. It is sad that our agency has been vandalized,” Rognmo told FOX 12 in a statement. “It makes me wonder why people are doing this, and for what reason? Why can’t they show respect, instead of destructing property that has been serving many communities for a long time?”

Tilikum helps about 125 people, connecting them with resources for housing, food, social services and even specialized devices like telephones and alarm clocks.

Vancouver police are still investigating the string of break-ins and a shed fire that broke out last week on a property adjacent to the facility.

In another case of vandalism last month, a camera and USB flash drives were stolen while computer and TV screens were smashed along with windows.

A spokeswoman for the department said Smith-Riggs doesn’t seem to be connected to some of the previous incidents of vandalism.

Smith-Riggs will be in court again next week.

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