PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – A 45-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly spraying anti-LGBT graffiti on the walls of a Palm Springs community center, police said.
Charinda Godakanda of Palm Springs was arrested at about 5 a.m. outside the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center and booked at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of felony vandalism, a “misdemeanor hate crime,” plus alleged weapons crimes, according to the Palm Springs Police Department.
Godakanda’s arrest stemmed from a series of events that began about midnight when police officers responded to a shots-fired call at the intersection of Rosa Parks Road and Granada Avenue, about a half-mile from the community center on Tramway Road.
Officers found Godakanda at the scene, who reported seeing multiple people shooting in the area before fleeing. Police found “evidence of a shooting,” but no victims or witnesses.
Five hours later, someone called dispatch to report that Desert Highland Park — which is adjacent to the community center — was on fire. Instead of a fire, responding officers found Godakanda again, and saw several external walls of the community center spray painted. Police said “a portion of the graffiti was directed towards the LGBT community.”
One of the community center’s windows was smashed, and police said they found an unloaded shotgun and an airsoft pistol next to the broken window, and some sort of knife on his person.
He was arrested after police obtained “probable cause” to take him into custody.
Godakanda, who remained in custody as of noon, has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County. Bail or arraignment information was not immediately available.