Janice Smarr grieves every day after her son was shot to death in the line of duty last year.
Earlier this week at Oak Grove Cemetery, Smarr noticed something was amiss on the shiny, black granite marker on the grave of Americus police officer Nicholas Smarr.
“I saw the footprints on the grave before we even got out of the car,” Smarr said Thursday morning. “He already died for the city. He needs to lie in peace.”
A family member set up a camera in the cemetery to try to determine what was going on after they detected possible vandalism.
When Smarr arrived at her son’s grave Wednesday morning, there was mud and other things on it, Americus Police Chief Mark Scott said.
“There were footprints on the grave, so that was obviously intentional,” Scott said.
A review of the photographs showed four teens had visited the grave after midnight. One of them spit on the grave, Smarr said.
Officers identified the suspects very quickly.
“They’re very good pictures,” Scott said. “They were all known to officers.”
Kaheem D. Chambers, 17, of Americus, was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing along with three 16-year-old girls, whose identities have not been released due to their ages.
“I think my son had arrested him before,” Smarr said. “It’s just very disrespectful and he probably did it because he just got out of jail and he was mad at the police.”
Chambers was booked back into the jail after the incident, Scott said.
Two of the girls, who had prior records, also were charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and were sent to the Regional Youth Detention Center in Macon.
The other was released to her parents, Scott said.
The girls also were charged with curfew violation.
“I just can’t fathom why you would think that would be OK on anybody’s grave,” Scott said.
On Dec. 7, 2016, Smarr, 25, was fatally shot along with his best friend, Georgia Southwestern police officer Jody Smith, 25, who died the day after the shooting.
Commenters on Facebook are trying to interject race into the arrests, but Smarr said that has nothing to do with it.
“We didn’t care if they were white, black or Mexican,” she said. “We didn’t want anyone messing with his grave.”
Smarr visits the cemetery daily and pledges to press charges against anyone who desecrates her son’s final resting place.
“I don’t want them to dance on my son’s grave,” she said. “If I have to put 10 more people in jail, I’ll just put 10 more in jail.”