Aspen investigates ‘ELF’ incident |

Aspen investigates ‘ELF’ incident

ASPEN – Police are treating the spray painting of the name of an ecoterrorist group on a vehicle early Sunday as domestic terrorism, police said.Two other cars and the north wall of the Aspen Ice Garden were also hit with black paint, said Aspen police Sgt. Steve Smith.”ELF” was written on one of the vehicles, Smith said. The Earth Liberation Front is a “serious terrorist threat,” according to the FBI’s Web site. ELF claimed responsibility for an incident in October 1998 that caused $12 million in damage to four ski lifts, a restaurant, a picnic facility and a utility building on Vail Mountain The group has also targeted federal and industrial buildings across the United States.The vehicles were a Mercedes SUV, a Volkswagen Vanagon and an Audi. “Sucks” was written on the Mercedes, while “Zulu nations” was spray painted on the wall of the ice rink. Smith said he didn’t know which of the vehicles was tagged with “ELF.”Asked if he thought it was the work of kids or a member of the ecoterrorist group, Smith said, “There’s no telling. Because of the notoriety ELF has, we consider it domestic terrorism.”He said repairs would probably run into the thousands. Information gathered by Aspen investigators will be forwarded to federal authorities. The case will be run through a national database to see if similar incidents exist, Smith said.The vehicles were on Garmisch Street between Durant and Cooper avenues. After a thorough search of the area, investigators have no leads and are seeking the public’s help.Police ask that anyone who sees a can of spray paint in the area of the crime, call police and not touch it, Smith said. He said investigators would seek fingerprints from the can. He said it could have been thrown over someone’s fence into their back yard.Smith said black spray paint on fingers could be another sign of involvement.Those with information about this case or anyone who saw someone suspicious early Sunday morning in the area of Garmisch Street between Durant and Cooper can call police at 920-5400. Callers can remain anonymous.

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