2 accused of stealing teddy bears, plaques from Stoneman Douglas memorial site

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward Sheriff’s deputies arrested two people accused of stealing stuffed toys and other items from the memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday night.

Witnesses said they spotted the pair taking items from the large memorial site by the Parkland high school. A BSO deputy reportedly found teddy bears, plaques and pin wheels that had been placed by the fence outside the school in the back seat of their car.

“It’s disturbing, very. It’s something you wouldn’t think could happen at [a place] like this,” said memorial visitor Holly Burke.

A sign at the memorial reads, “In an effort to preserve the memory of the victims, memorial items will soon be collected for long-term preservation.”

But authorities said 37-year-old Michael Kennedy and 40-year-old Kara O’Neil collected these items illegally.

Deputies arrested the duo and charged each of them with one count of disfiguring a tomb or monument, a third-degree felony.

“These families have been through enough. These kids have been through enough, and then to add this?” said memorial visitor Mayra Salazar. “I mean, it’s not a joke.”

“I mean, come on. Look at what we witnessed here,” said memorial visitor Wanda Calis.

Kennedy argued in court that the memorial outside the school is neither a tomb nor monument.

“Yes, judge, I believe that the charges have insufficient facial evidence, and it just doesn’t meet the elements,” he said.

But the judge disagreed, saying the state’s statute also protects a memorial for the dead or burial artifacts.

Kennedy and O’Neil are each being held on $1,000 bond. Upon their release, they have been ordered to stay away from Stoneman Douglas.

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