It turns out that a graffiti message sprayed on a garage — which raised alarms about possible gang activity — wasn’t the work of a gang member after all.
It was spray-painted by the son of a Brandon Police Service officer.
The youth has no ties to gangs, court heard but Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said the message hit on a sensitive subject.
"We’re hearing too much about gangs," Hewitt-Michta said.
The tag that caused concern was sprayed in black paint on a white garage door at a home on the 1900-block of Ninth Street in the early morning of Sept. 28.
It read, "Warriors Want Thom" and Crown attorney Laurie Vandendool pointed to a Brandon Sun article in which area residents expressed concern about possible gang activity.
In that story, at least one area resident expressed worry that it might be the work of the Manitoba Warriors street gang.
It’s true that the Manitoba Warriors have been tied to a number of high-profile incidents in the city lately.
However, court heard that this graffiti wasn’t the work of a gang member.
Police said as much in October when they announced the arrest of a 15-year-old boy in connection with the graffiti.
That was confirmed in court on Tuesday when the teen admitted to spraying the message and pleaded guilty to mischief.
Exactly who had sprayed the mysterious message came to light after police were called to another incident.
On Sept. 29, they were called to the youth’s Brandon home by his mom because he’d become upset after his dad confiscated a stolen machete.
The angry teen reacted by punching holes in walls and in closet doors, and he was arrested by police.
His father then urged the youth to co-operate with police, which the teen did by confessing to a couple of other crimes that included the graffiti.
His father told court that his son explained that he was owed $10 and the message was intended to intimidate the debtor into paying up.
Vandendool said the youth initially claimed some connection to the Manitoba Warriors, but then recanted that claim and police decided it was unfounded.
The father said his son has told him that he has no gang affiliation whatsoever.
The offender also confessed to setting fire to some brush in the back of a pickup truck parked on the 1200-block of 12th Street on Sept. 28. However, he quickly put the fire out and there was minimal damage.
Hewitt-Michta sentenced the boy for three counts of mischief — for the graffiti, the damage to the walls and doors, and the fire in the truck bed — and possession of stolen property.
The youth received probation for one year with 50 hours of community service work.
It’s illegal to publish any information that could identify a young offender and, therefore, the father’s name can’t be printed either.