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Polk 'Joker' arrested for vandalizing patrol car

TBO.com staff
Polk County 'Joker' arrested for vandalizing marked patrol car

Published:   |   Updated: July 13, 2013 at 01:08 PM

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A Lakeland man was arrested Friday after vandalizing the patrol car of a deputy who lives in his neighborhood, and leaving a note on the deputy's door referring to himself as "The Joker," the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Matthew James Lash, 22, of Arrowhead Boulevard, threw concrete blocks and landscaping rocks at the patrol car, breaking a window, before he stole a rechargeable flashlight from the vehicle early Tuesday morning, the sheriff's office said.

On Friday, deputy James Flowers discovered another smashed window on the car and a note on his front door that read "The Joker is here! Jokes on you." The note also contained a homophobic slur.

Deputies said they arrived and found Lash in the street acting erratically with a bb gun rifle. At first Lash was ordered back into his home, but he was later arrested after returning with a box cutter, deputies said.

Lash is also accused of breaking windows on Flowers' personally owned pickup truck and attempting to force his way into another house in the neighborhood before throwing a rock through a sliding glass door there.

Lash was charged with multiple counts of burglary, criminal mischief, petit theft, firing a weapon into a structure, improper exhibition of a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, criminal mischief and tampering with evidence.

Lash later admitted to the vandalism and burglaries, and said he was referring the the Joker character from Batman in the note, according to an arrest affidavit.

Lash told deputies that he was drinking and got angry, and that he holds no ill will toward Flowers.

"We take it very seriously when someone specifically targets a law enforcement officer at his home or at work," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "When people target deputies and other public servants, they are targeting the community's public safety. We don't take it as a joke and we will make sure the joker is held accountable for his actions."

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