Video shows men trying to tear down tree in downtown Columbia

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COLUMBIA- The Columbia Police Department is asking the community for help by releasing a photo of one of the suspects from Thursday night's incident.

A tree in downtown Columbia became the target of vandalism Thursday night when two men were caught on camera trying to rip it out of the ground.

The tree is outside the Brookside Downtown apartments.

"Any tree that ever gets planted outside my place is automatically on the clock for getting destroyed," said Keegan Kennedy, tenant of the Brookside apartment right next to where the tree was standing.

"Personally I've seen this tree ripped out of the ground at least three or four times," said David Betancourt, who lives in the apartment above Kennedy. "It normally is just drunk older students coming back and ripping the trees out of the ground."

This type of vandalism is not uncommon throughout downtown Columbia, and the frequency of these events is something that has taken a toll on the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.

"I'd say we have to deal with this probably at least once a month and it comes at a bit of a cost to the city having to replace this tree," said Steve Fritz, employee of the Forestry Department within Columbia Parks and Recreation.

As a part of his job Fritz is responsible for maintaining all of the trees throughout Downtown Columbia, along with all of the trees in the city parks.

According to Fritz, the Forestry Department has "planting seasons" for when they replace the uprooted trees, and said that, "I'm not sure when we'll be doing this one, probably next spring, so for now well just take it out and cover it up so nobody steps in the grate."

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