Andrew Dys

Rock Hill apartment’s flag was stolen -- and so was part of the flag pole

For 13 years the American Flag has proudly flown on a pole outside the Oak Hollow Apartments in Rock Hill. Casey Faris, a Marine Corps veteran, is in charge of the maintenance at the complex. That flag is his duty. There are flowers around the pole. It is a spot of honor for all who work and live there.

But that show of patriotism came under attack sometime Monday morning. Villains stole the American Flag from its spot in front of the apartment office on York Avenue. They also cut the flag pole -- and took half of it.

“My mother was the manager here before me, and she was the one who had that flagpole put in, in concrete in the ground, so that everyone could see it and be proud of it,” said Shelly Risk, manager of the apartments. “We have always been so proud to fly the American Flag here. The residents, all of us, are extremely proud of our country.”

Faris shook his head at the crime. He views the incident as more than the police report, which describes what happened as petty larceny and malicious injury to property.

“Terrible,” Faris said.

Risk noticed the pole cut in half when she arrived for work before 8 a.m. Monday. She said it is possible someone was trying to send a political message.

“I don’t know if it is something where someone doesn’t like the new President Trump or what, but this is not right,” Risk said. “This American Flag and flagpole was not knocked over. It was cut down.”

The flowers that staff lovingly tend around the flagpole were not stomped or torn up, leading staff at the apartments to believe this was not just a random act of vandalism.

“It had to be on purpose,” Risk said. “Somebody wanted that flag down and cut the pole so it couldn’t have a flag put right back up on it.”

Oak Hollow Apartments now has featured some of the best, and worst, that people can do.

In July 2013, a woman set fire to one of the buildings, forcing several people to leap from the second floor, including a pregnant woman who survived along with her unborn child. Three Rock Hill Police Department officers risked their own lives to pull residents out of that 2013 fire and catch others who jumped.

The stealing of an American Flag is by itself rare, said Capt. Mark Bollinger of the Rock Hill Police Department, but sawing off the flagpole is even more “out of the ordinary.” The flag and pole as the target of the crime does not make it more significant than another property crime, Bollinger said, despite how the crime has upset residents and staff.

Officers are investigating to determine who committed the crime, and if the action was a statement that could potentially be a hate crime, Bollinger said.

The cost to replace the pole and flag is expected to be at least $500, Risk said. But the pole will be replaced and Old Glory will go back up. And there will be another expense, too.

“We didn’t have cameras out here in front of the office showing the flagpole before,” Risk said. “But we will now.”