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Tagger known as 'Liter' arrested on suspicion of defacing Vietnam veterans memorial in Venice

Tagger known as 'Liter' arrested on suspicion of defacing Vietnam veterans memorial in Venice
A man walks past the Vietnam veterans mural, which was covered with plastic after it was vandalized just before Memorial Day. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A man was arrested Wednesday after his moniker was found spray-painted on the face of a Vietnam War mural in Venice days before Memorial Day.

Detectives had identified Angel Castro, 24, earlier this month as one of four vandals who defaced the wall bearing the names of 2,273 soldiers declared missing in action or prisoners of war in Vietnam, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

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Castro admitted to participating in the vandalism during an initial interview with lead Det. Michael Thibodeaux, who later obtained a warrant to arrest him, authorities said.

Castro, who goes by the moniker "Liter," was taken into custody in the Exposition Park area on suspicion of felony vandalism. He is being held in lieu of $95,000 bail.

Investigators are still looking for the three remaining taggers: "Pheb," "Noner" and "Snake." The moniker "Noner" has been linked to a Bay Area tagging group, the sheriff's department said.

The moniker "Noner" was among the names tagged on the memorial in Venice.
The moniker "Noner" was among the names tagged on the memorial in Venice. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

Community leaders condemned the vandalism, while others were stunned to find the massive white lettering sprayed across the mural along Pacific Avenue.

With a black background, the art piece features columns of soldiers' names with a message that reads, "You are not forgotten."

Volunteers worked quickly to scrub off remnants of the graffiti.

Volunteers scrub graffiti off a veterans memorial in Venice.
Volunteers scrub graffiti off a veterans memorial in Venice. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

Created by artist Peter Stewart in 1992, the project raised money for the Vietnam Veterans Aid Foundation. Stewart was inspired to create the art installation after attending a welcome-home parade for Operation Desert Storm.

Longtime Venice resident Stewart Oscars said the graffiti stretched on for about 100 feet.

"It's like a direct attack," he said. "If you have any sense of history, you'd never do this."

Anyone who may know the identities of the remaining taggers is urged to call the Transit Policing Division at (888) 950-7233. To remain anonymous, call "LA Crime Stoppers" at (800) 222-8477. Tipsters can also text "TIPLA" with information to CRIMES (274637), or visit lacrimestoppers.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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