100 headstones toppled at city's oldest cemetery

Graves at City Cemetery #1 date back to pre-Civil War days

SAN ANTONIO – The same vandals who caused damage at the National Cemetery east of downtown San Antonio last week may be responsible for 100 headstones being toppled across the street at San Antonio's oldest cemetery.

Many of the graves at City Cemetery #1 date back to pre-Civil War days.

"Our oldest historical cemetery lies here in ruin because of a bunch of idiots," said Ray Lafreniere, a veteran who saw the damage when he and his wife went to the National Cemetery after KSAT 12 News reported the vandalism there. 

Related: Vandals cause thousands in damage at San Antonio National Cemetery

"We just looked across the street. To see all the fallen headstones, we were just shocked," said Sharon Lafreniere, a lifelong San Antonio resident whose grandmother, great grandparents and great-great-grandmother are buried in adjacent cemeteries. 

She said if it had happened to their gravesites, "It would be terrible. It would be absolutely terrible."

The couple said what they saw at City Cemetery #1 at Palmetto and East Commerce streets was worse than what was done at the National Cemetery. 

"Totally disrespectful, the most egregious thing I've ever seen," Ray Lafreniere said. "It really makes you feel sad for the people that are here, and their families."

Related: Local group honors veterans with wreaths at San Antonio National Cemetery

A spokeswoman for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, which that oversees city cemeteries, said resetting the stones could cost between $7,000 and $10,000. She said the money to fix the stones would come from general cemetery maintenance and operating budget. The spokeswoman said repairs would begin with the next month. 

San Antonio police and park police are investigating, but have not confirmed whether the two cases of vandalism are related.

An SAPD spokesman said despite the incident being classified as criminal mischief, because burial places were vandalized, it's a state jail felony.

"I say, turn yourself in and take the hit," Ray Lafreniere said about the vandals. "If anybody knows who did this, the police need to know, and they need to be brought (to) justice." 

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