Three men charged with smashing mailboxes

Published 9:51 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three young Austin men have been charged in connection with a string of vandalism last week that left nearly 30 mailboxes damaged or destroyed.

John Michael Nolan, 20, Dakota James Ringling, 18, and Bruce Lawrence Heimer, 20, were all charged with single counts of felony first-degree property damage Wednesday in Mower County court. Heimer was also charged with obstructing the legal process — a gross misdemeanor — for resisting arrest.

Heimer is scheduled for arraignment July 1, while Nolan and Ringling are scheduled to next appear in court on July 8.

According to court records, damage was first reported to authorities on May 23 at around 9:24 p.m. That call came from the area of 54190 244th St. and the suspect vehicle was described as a white SUV. A similar call came in from the 2400 block of 10th Avenue Southwest at around 10 p.m.

Later that evening, an Austin police officer observed three young males driving a white SUV around in the parking lot of Austin Ford. The vehicle, driven by Heimer and occupied by the two other males, was pulled over in the area.

The officer noticed a large machete, as well as a metal baseball bat, inside the SUV. The three suspects were asked to step outside the vehicle and were placed under arrest. Heimer resisted, records indicate, and the officer subdued him with a chemical irritant.

The three men were taken to jail for questioning. Nolan admitted that he and the two others had been out smashing mailboxes. He estimated that he damaged seven on his own, while the group hit a combined 10 to 15, records indicate.

Ringling admitted that he was out with the other two but initially said he didn’t damage anything. Later, he acknowledged that he had smashed the window out from a van belonging to HyVee.

Nolan also later admitted to smashing a window out from a van. In his case, the van belonged to Mower County, records show.

Heimer admitted that he participated in mailbox smashing.

In all, records state that the three damaged 29 mailboxes, a decorative wood sign and the two vans. The combined damage is listed at $2,778.

Police also searched the white SUV the three traveled in and recovered several BB pellets. Lt. John Mueller said Austin police have looked into whether the three were involved with a rash of BB gun vandalism reported around town in early May, but so far, no connections between the cases have been made.