Police: Teen with axe, machete charged with damaging graves

CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - A teenager was arrested Thursday after damaging grave markers at a local cemetery, according to the Concord Police Department.

The incident happened around 11:30 a.m. when police responded to a report of a man damaging grave markers at the city-owned Oakwood Cemetery on Church Street North in Concord.

Officers arrived and confronted 19-year-old Afdal Azam Ali Leach, of Kannapolis, who was found armed with an axe and a machete, police told WBTV.

Leach complied with commands from the officers and was taken into custody without incident.

A number of grave markers and accessories were found to have been damaged. Authorities are working to document the damage and begin notification of affected families, police said.

Leach was charged with four counts of felony defacing or desecrating a grave site.

More charges are expected, officials said, as 75 different graves sites may have been damaged to varying degrees.

On Friday, Concord Mayor Scott Padgett released a statement about the vandalism. He said, in part, "On behalf of the Concord City Council, we empathize with all the family members and other loved ones of those whose gravesites in our historic Oakwood Cemetery were vandalized yesterday. This space, as all final resting places of our loved ones, is a sacred place in our community."

He added, "Unfortunately, damage has been done to these gravesites and the emotions of the families involved. Law enforcement will do everything in its capacity to prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent."

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