SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City firefighters reacted with "shock" Tuesday to an early-morning act of vandalism that damaged a 9/11 memorial outside a Pacific Beach firehouse on the 11th anniversary of the catastrophic East Coast terror strikes.
San Diego fire engineer Jeff Kaimer had just returned from a medical-aid call with fellow crew members shortly after midnight when he heard a loud crash. He looked out a second-floor window at the Grand Avenue station and saw that someone had knocked over one of the two polished-aluminum towers in the commemorative display.
A young woman with dark-blond hair was outside, looking at the toppled 4 1/2-foot-tall World Trade Center replica in front of San Diego Fire-Rescue Station 21. A moment later, she ran off, and Kaimer gave chase along with a fellow firefighter but could not locate her.
The crew members spoke to several people in the area. None said they had seen the fleeing pedestrian or any other suspicious-looking people.
Kaimer said he doubted the woman was the one who pulled down the monument from the base on which it was welded, saying the act more likely would have been that of a strong young man or several of them, possibly inspired by an evening of drinking at one of the many bars in the area.
Fire Capt. Bill DeGrenier, who also works at the station where the vandalism occurred, said he was "very disappointed" that anyone would do harm to the memorial, which was created by San Diego firefighter Tim Swanson and installed exactly one year ago, on the 10th anniversary of the nation's worst-ever terror strikes.
"The best way to describe it is shock, that anybody would sink this low to do this," DeGrenier said.
For his part, Kaimer expressed hope that the damage resulted from "stupid," possibly inebriated behavior and not out of malicious intent.
The metal skyscraper model that toppled over apparently struck the second one standing next to it, near a piece of steel retrieved from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
The building replicas -- which are inscribed with the names of firefighters, police officers and medics killed when the Twin Towers collapsed -- both sustained some "dings" and loss of automotive clear-coat covering them, according to Kaimer. The damage appeared to be repairable, he said.
The responsible party or parties remained at large and unidentified Tuesday afternoon, DeGrenier said. A San Diego police detective who was investigating was looking into the possibility that a surveillance camera at a nearby convenience store captured images of the incident, the captain said.