BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Bloomington Police Department is investigating after several businesses in the downtown area were vandalized earlier in the week.
According to BPD, the department received ten reports on Monday, June 7 from businesses that had windows smashed. They also received one report of a dumpster fire, determined to be arson, in the same area of the city.
Josh Lanham, owner of A.E.A Design and Apparel, arrived to work around 9 a.m. Monday, only to discover a window on the side of his business had been smashed, with the rock used, still on the ground next to the building.
“The first thing I noticed coming from the stoplight was my window,” said Lanham. “You could see it plain as day as soon as you came through that light.”
Lanham said he spent more than two hours dealing with the matter, between calling his landlord and police, taking photos, and ensuring he covered all of the bases to report what happened.
He said, “It kind of just hits you like, come on really, it’s Monday morning, do I really have to deal with this?”
Fortunately, in Lanham’s case, he said the double pane glass saved the day. The rock did not break through the second layer.
“I have equipment just right on the other side of that window,” he said. “Had they taken that rock and smashed it just a little bit longer, they would have been through.”
Lanham not only owns the business, but also operates it solo, making it even more difficult when something like this ties up several hours of his day.
“I’m one person. I do the billing. I do the ordering, I do the printing,” said Lanham.
“For somebody to smash a window, you kind of take it personal. You don’t know the reasons behind it,” he continued.
Like others, Lanham was surprised to learn it wasn’t just his business that was hit.
“When you hear about it being other businesses, other small businesses even too, it’s kind of just sad,” he said.
Over at La Una Cantina, just a short distance up the same road, their employees also arrived Monday morning to find a rock had been thrown through their window of double pane glass, but in their case, it made it all the way through.
“We have two windows, back-to-back, it has a nice gap in between them,” said bar manager Ahmad Mckinnie, “It went through the first one, went through the second one, landed on our liquor shelf.”
Mckinnie said this is the second time a rock has been thrown through the glass at the restaurant, but it’s still not clear why anyone would want to do that to a small, family-owned business.
Both Lanham and Mckinnie said they are grateful their businesses did not sustain damage more severe, resulting in operations being impacted, however, they said it’s important to remember the impact something like this can have a small business.
“It’s definitely kind of sad because, you know, you lose so much money during COVID, you open back up, and now you have to spend even more money to buy another window,” said
“It’s been a heck of a year to begin with, being a small business owner during this pandemic. You see something like this and you’re like, it’s just another thing to add to the list,” said Lanham. “It’s kind of just sad that somebody would have that train of thought to even pick up a rock and smash somebody’s window.”
“I hope they get help. I really do,” he said. “We don’t know the thoughts behind why they did this, but we don’t need this as small businesses.”
Lanham said he feels fortunate to have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and open the doors to his business again as COVID restrictions eased, but he doesn’t want another small business already facing the same challenges, to be impacted by an act of vandalism, like this.
Both Lanham and Mckinnie said this won’t stop either business from moving forward and continuing to do what they love to do every day, to serve their customers.
“You have to deal with it. You either move on or you close up shop, and I’ve been there,” said Lanham.
Mckinnie shared, “My dad told me a long time ago, the world doesn’t stop if something happens, just get back on your feet and push to the hardest.”
BPD responds to multiple reports of windows smashed
Police said the first call received was around 1:30 a.m. on June 7 at the Circle K Gas Station on W. Kirkwood Ave. The window remains boarded up two days later.
At 2:45 a.m., police responded to the Alley Bar on W. Kirkwood Ave. after a brick was thrown through the glass on the front door.
At 2:50 a.m., police received a report of a damaged window at La Una Cantina, on the corner of N. Walnut St. and E. 7th St. Mckinnie said when staff arrived for their shift several hours later, the rock used was found inside the bar area.
At 3:01 a.m., police responded to the Shalom Center, which helps people facing homelessness, hunger and poverty, to take a report from an employee, who said that a window on the front of the building had been broken sometime between 4 p.m. on June 6 and 3 a.m. on the 7th.
Police said they returned to the Shalom Center later in the day, and officers were able to retrieve video footage that showed the suspect broke the window by throwing an item through it. Police identified the person allegedly responsible as 53-year-old Douglas Ferguson.
According to BPD, Ferguson was also the suspect in a dumpster fire, reported on the same day at approximately 5:45 a.m. in the 300 block of S. Grant Street.
On Tuesday, police came in contact with Ferguson, where he was interviewed and transported to the Monroe County Jail. He remains in custody on the charges of Arson, a level 6 felony, related to the dumpster fire, and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor, related to the broken window at the Shalom Center.
Investigators are working to determine whether Ferguson was involved in the damaging of property at other businesses that had windows broken, many which were reported in the early morning hours on Monday.
Police also responded Monday to the Bauer and Densford law firm in the 600 block of W. Third Street just before 8 a.m. for a report of a front window on the business damaged by an object thrown through it.
Around 9:05 a.m., police received the call from Lanham at his business, A.E.A. Design and Apparel, in the 400 block of St. Walnut St. after he discovered the damage.
Police said there were also three additional businesses in the 400 block of W. 1st St. that reported broken windows on the same day, Monday, June 7, at approximately 3 p.m. It is not clear exactly when the damage was done to these three businesses.
Update: Since the story aired, CBS4 has also learned a tenth business, ACE Pawn Shop in the 500 block of S. Walnut Ave. had its window broken.
Police said they responded around 5:30 a.m. on Monday for a glass break alarm. Upon arrival, officers found a broken window, where a piece of concrete had been thrown through it.