A Jackie Robinson statue that was cut off at the ankles and stolen Thursday from a Little League baseball field in Wichita, Kansas, has been found in a trash can at a different park – burned and in pieces, police say.
Officers responded to a call Tuesday morning about a trash can fire in Garvey Park, Wichita Police Department spokesperson Andrew Ford said at a Tuesday news conference.
“Shortly after extinguishing the fire, the fire department saw what appeared to be pieces of the Jackie Robinson statue, which is not salvageable at this time,” Ford said at the news conference.
League 42, a nonprofit that provides low-cost baseball registration for children, had raised $50,000 for the life-sized statue at its field, according to CNN affiliate KLBY. The league was named after Robinson’s jersey number, honoring the legendary athlete who broke the Major League’s color barrier as a Black player. The theft occurred shortly after midnight Thursday, police have said.
The theft and arson remain under investigation. On Monday, police said they found a truck believed to be connected to the theft.
“There will be an arrest but we’re going to make sure that when we do, we will have a solid case,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said Tuesday.
The statue “was a symbol of hope” in the community, Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson told CNN on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Johnson described the discovery as “heartbreaking.”
“I hate to see that the statue was not in one piece,” he told reporters. “I do want everyone to know we are undeterred to make sure that statue gets rebuilt and put back there for our community, for League 42, for young people, that symbol of hope will be only gone for a short time.”
League 42 will move forward with creating a replica of the statue by the late James Parsons with the same material, director Bob Lutz said at the news conference.
“Fortunately, the mold from his work is still viable, and the statue that reappears at McAdams Park will be the work of John Parsons,” Lutz said.
A GoFundMe organized by Lutz has so far raised over $19,000 to replace the statue.
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