Lawton Police have suspected tagger in custody

Lawton Police say his work has been seen all over town; especially at the historic Fairmont Creamery.  The city's gang unit says they've caught at least one man who they say is responsible for thousands of dollars worth of graffiti vandalism.

In May 7News reported that someone had painted the words "All Time Kings" in big bold letters at the creamery.  And, Lawton's Gang Unit says 22 year old Michael Merritt was one of several people behind the defacing of the building.  Friday, prosecutors charged Merritt with malicious injury to private property - a felony crime.

According to the police department's report, a witness says Merritt and several others were part of a tagger crew called ATK.  And, that's just the beginning.  Authorities say they have pictures and video that ties the suspects to the crimes.  After getting information from a witness, the Gang Unit says they and Fort Sill Police searched Merritt's home on post where they found written documents and clothing that the suspect wore in pictures they have of him tagging.

Police say he's the person who has spray painted the monikers "SES", "SESR" and "ATK" on the Fairmont, billboards, and other property in the area.  Tommy Gisinger owns Gibson's Meat plant in the old industrial park that's covered in graffiti everywhere you look.  He says it started around two years ago and he knows their work well.  "At first it was colorful; then it just got ugly," he said.  It quit becoming art and just become somebody painting over a building."

This crime has also caught the City Government's eye.  "They were wanting us to clean it up and, you know, until you stop the problem there's no sense in cleaning it up if you paint it, you just give them a clean slate to start with," Gisinger said.

With word that the tagger crew may have been stopped, Gisinger says he'll take another look at spending the $5,000-$8,000 it will cost to clean up the mess.  But, better yet, he'd like those responsible to do it.  "I'll buy the paint as long as I could sit there and watch them paint it," he said.

The Police Department's witness has also named another soldier as one of the taggers.  We're told that he used to be in Michael Merritt's unit at Fort Sill but is now stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.  The Gang Unit says they're still interviewing several people about the "ATK" tagger crew.  They say they expect to make more arrests, soon.