LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — A 22-year-old man who referred to himself as “The Joker” was arrested Friday after authorities said he twice vandalized a deputy’s patrol car while it was parked in front of the officer’s Lakeland home.
Matthew James Lash also burglarized another home in the neighborhood and left a note on the deputy’s front door that read “The Joker is Here! Jokes on you Bitch,” according to Polk County Sheriff’s deputies.
Lash threw concrete blocks and rocks at the patrol car, shattering the window on Tuesday. He also stole a flashlight from the patrol car and smashed the windows of the deputy’s personal truck, authorities said in a statement.
Three days later, deputies said Lash threw a rock through the sliding glass window at a nearby home.
Deputies responded to resident’s home Friday and said they found Lash, who lives nearby, standing in the street acting erratically and carrying a rifle. He was ordered back home, but authorities said he later came back out with a box cutter.
Authorities also noticed the window of the deputy’s patrol car had been broken again. That’s when they found the Joker note on the front door of the deputy’s residence.
During an interview with investigators, Lash admitted to the vandalism and burglaries, saying he had been drinking and doesn’t hold any ill will toward the deputy, authorities said.
“We take it very seriously when someone specifically targets a law enforcement officer at his home or at work. When people target deputies and other public servants, they are targeting the community’s public safety. We don’t take it as a joke and we will make sure “The Joker” is held accountable for his actions,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
Lash faces several charges including two counts of burglary, two counts of criminal mischief and firing a weapon into a structure. He is being held without bond. It’s unclear whether he had retained an attorney.
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