Water tank suspect in custody

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, January 27, 2013

Brookhaven authorities have a man in custody they believe responsible for the vandalism of a city water tank, said Police Chief Pap Henderson.

Justin Lee Hughes, 36, was arrested Friday in Jefferson County by the local sheriff’s department at the request of the Brookhaven Police Department, Henderson said.

Hughes, of 1579 Clark Travis Lane, Apartment B, has been charged with felony malicious mischief.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A tip was apparently instrumental in identifying the alleged vandal.

“There was some good information that was provided,” Henderson said. “We investigated and were able to ascertain the evidence was there to make an arrest.”

The tip came to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, which passed the information along to BPD, said Sheriff Steve Rushing.

Hughes resided in Brookhaven but worked in Jefferson County.

Earlier this month, Brookhaven officials discovered two bullet holes in the Linbrook Business Park water tower. The tank, with a capacity of one million gallons, had to be drained and patched from the inside. Repairs cost $12,300, and the city’s insurance covered all but $2,500 of that amount.

Right now, Hughes remains the primary person authorities believe responsible.

“There may be a witness that was there, but as far as who fired the shots, just him,” Henderson said.

However, the chief said some aspects of the incident remain under investigation, and he didn’t rule out further action by authorities.

A motive for the vandalism of the tank hasn’t yet been publicly identified.

When the tank was drained for repairs, the bullets were recovered and shell casings were also found in the vicinity of the tank, Henderson said.

The chief wouldn’t say whether the weapon used to shoot the tank had been identified or recovered.

Hughes was booked into the Lincoln County jail 2:48 p.m. Friday and remained in custody as of Saturday afternoon. No bond had been set yet.

City aldermen had authorized a reward of $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot the tank.

Following repairs of the tower, tests cleared it for use and Water Department Superintendent Keith Lewis said it went back online about Tuesday.

Water department officials had estimated the vandalism occurred around Dec. 28.

Aldermen approved the reward Jan. 15.