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Suspect located, arrested in vandalism of Vanessa Guillen memorial

Killeen police said they have arrested a 29-year-old man as the person who kicked over candles in front of a mural in Killeen honoring Vanessa Guillen.

KILLEEN, Texas — The Killeen Police Department has found and arrested the man they said vandalized a memorial set up in Killeen for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

Police arrested Lewis Mbote, 29, just before 5 p.m. October 7. Killeen police said Mbote was found in the 100 block of West Avenue G in Killeen. He was taken to the Bell County Jail. 

Killeen police suspect that Mbote is the man seen on surveillance video kicking over candles in front of a mural of Killeen at Rancier Dr. and Fort Hood St. A warrant was issued for his arrest on a charge of criminal mischief.

The League of United Latin American Citizens posted the video to Facebook Oct 2.

The video shows a man walk straight through the area in front of a mural of Guillen, smashing and kicking over candles. The man starts to walk away but then charges back at the site and kicks over more candles. He comes back a third time to cause more damage before leaving.

"I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” said Analuisa Tapia, LULAC District Director. "Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat."

A time stamp on the surveillance footage shows it happened around 2:40 a.m. The site was cleaned up a few hours later.

Guillen was killed on Fort Hood April 2. Her remains were found June 30 buried near the Leon River in Bell County.

A criminal complaint said fellow soldier Aaron Robinson killed her with a hammer in an armory room. He killed himself July 1 just hours after her remains were found.

Robinson's girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, was also arrested. She's charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence for allegedly helping Robinson to bury the remains. Her trial was set for November.

Guillen's death launched a nationwide push for reform within the military. Her family said she told them she was sexually harassed but never told her superiors for fear of retaliation. 

The #IAmVanessaGuillen Bill was introduced to congress Sept. 16. It would allow for those in the military who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to report the abuse to a third party outside the chain of command.

Guillen's death along with those of several other Fort Hood soldiers launched multiple investigations looking at the command climate and culture in and around the post.

A change in leadership was also announced Sept. 1 with Gen. Michael X. Garrett, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, assigning Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV as deputy commanding general for operations of III Corps and acting senior commander of Fort Hood.

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