By Christopher Smith
When AK Demirhat, manager of Panda Express on Walnut Avenue, saw the restaurant’s front windows were shattered Tuesday morning, he thought there had been a drive-by shooting overnight.
“I thought it was a gun that shot the window,” he said. “I called the police. They said it was a couple of kids around downtown. They said they used marble stones or something to break the window.”
Demirhat wasn’t alone.
Between 35 and 40 businesses had their windows vandalized in a similar fashion Tuesday morning, said Dalton Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier. He said most businesses hit were on or near Glenwood, Thornton and Walnut avenues and Hamilton Street.
No one was injured during the spree, Frazier said.
Several business owners, including Stan Fetzer of the Buckin’ Burrito restaurant on Hamilton Street, speculated a BB gun was used. Police said they found marbles near some of the broken windows leading them to believe someone was throwing them from a moving vehicle.
It’s not clear if a slingshot was used for the marbles, Frazier said, or if someone “had a really good arm.”
“I was surprised, shocked,” Fetzer said of discovering a narrow hole in the front window of his restaurant. “It’s a clear (BB pellet) hole. It’s going to be costly to fix it. It didn’t shatter, thank goodness.”
Across the street from the restaurant, a window at Crutchfield’s Furniture was shattered.
“It’s terrible,” owner Chris Bunch said. “I just came in this morning (Tuesday) and found broken glass everywhere. It’s going to cost people money to fix their windows.”
Al Johnson, owner of Al Johnson Volkswagen on Glenwood Avenue, said replacing a front showroom window at his car lot that was vandalized will cost him about $2,000.
“I hope they catch whoever did this,” he said. “I’m glad no one was hurt.”
Police don’t have an exact timeline of when each reported vandalism happened, but Frazier said much of the vandalism probably happened between 4 and 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
“But it might not have happened all at the same time,” he said.
Johnson said no one entered his car showroom after the front window shattered.
“Nothing appears to have been taken from any of the locations,” Frazier said. “It was just vandalism.”
Video from several security cameras show a car passing by some of the businesses that were hit, Frazier said, but there was nothing clear enough to release to the public Tuesday afternoon.
“No one saw what happened here,” Demirhat said of the vandalism at Panda Express. “I checked my (security) camera (and) didn’t see anything.”
Frazier asked business owners with relevant security footage or anyone else with information about the vandalism to call Det. Greg Bates at (706) 278-9085, ext. 137.