Before becoming a Navy SEAL and dying to defend his country in Afghanistan, native patchoggler Michael Murphy protected swimmers and sunbathers as lifeguards on Lake Ronkonkoma.
Murphy's altruism would have led him to counsel the teenager, whom Suffolk police accused of destroying a lake-facing monument honoring the Medal recipient, Murphy's father said on Friday.
"Michael was the kind of person who wanted to take this person under his wing and talk to him," Daniel Murphy said, hours after the police arrested the unidentified 14-year-old boy at his Ronkonkoma home  ] Photo taken in Afghanistan with Navy Seal ”
The granite slab commemorating Michael Murphy – who was killed in 2005 while leading a four-member SEAL team on a secret mission in the Hindu Kush mountains near Pakistan Destroyed on Thursday In an incident that shook the community and drew the attention of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
The memorial, in a Brookhaven Town Park on the south bank of Lake Ronkonkoma, contained an engraved image of Murphy and a description of the June 28, 2005 secret operation in which he was killed.
Within hours of the discovery of vandalism, Suffolk Crime Stoppers and Brookhaven officials offered rewards that led to arrest. Cuomo, who said he was "horrified" by the destruction of the monument, said the state would "fully finance" its replacement.
"This treasured prize recalls and honors its leadership and service, and to profane this honor is immeasurable," Cuomo said in a statement on Friday.
Fourth Squad detectives arrested the teenager at 3 pm on Friday for his home after an investigation, Suffolk County police said in a press release. The boy is later charged in a family court with a second-degree criminal charge, the police said.
Det. Lt. Michael Crowley, commanding officer of the fourth season detectives, said the police responded quickly to the incident and found "a source that provided us with information that led us to the suspect."
He said the teenager had had a previous encounter with the police but had not been charged in this incident.
Reward money is unlikely to be awarded because the police themselves cracked the case, Crowley said.
He said additional information about the case could be found in the Fourth Division Detectives at number 631-854-8452 or at the 800-220 TIPS Police Time Administration.
At a Friday morning press conference, Murphy's parents called for the crime to be used as a reminder of the victims of their son and other veterans and soldiers.
Daniel Murphy of Wading River said he received messages of support from people across the country and so far away from Germany and England, saying the family was less interested in seeing the suspect punished than hoping that the teenager would would come to understand the meaning of the monument.
Michael Murphy's mother, Patchy Maureen Murphy, said young people should learn to be "thankful" to people like their son.
"I lost him again because I came here and saw him," she said. "I hope you raise this young man and tell him how foolish he was."
The news conference was also attended by more than a dozen local officials and police, who were surrounded on a podium by dozens of citizens of Lake Ronkonkoma and citizens.
"Hopefully this will be an educational moment for the involved young people – for them and for everyone in Suffolk County," said County Executive Steve Bellone in an interview.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said Murphy was a "symbol of America" who died shortly after the suspect's birth.
"This 14-year-old did not know when it happened that Lt. Michael Murphy sacrificed his life for this teenager and his family," Zeldin said.
The damaged plate was removed on Friday morning and it was planned to replace it with stronger material, Daniel Murphy said.
Brookhaven supervisor Edward P. Romaine said safety at the park will be improved by surveillance cameras, lighting and increased patrols by the end of the month.
Romaine added that city officials received numerous donations from city dwellers and organizations to repair the monument.
The word of the destroyed monument quickly spread to residents on Thursday afternoon, said Evelyn Vollgraff of the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group.
She said the vandalism was worrying because the residents were working hard to improve the lake's environment.
"That they had to turn around to inflict this damage was devastating," she said.
Daniel Murphy said the location of the memorial was important to his family, as his son had swum in both directions as part of his training schedule across Lake Ronkonkoma as he prepared to join the navy.
Before it was removed, the stone monument had cracks that emanated from its center, where a picture showed Michael Murphy in his military equipment, said his father.
"He destroyed part of our son for us," said Daniel Murphy. "One of the places where he met Michael was right in the heart."