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Paintballer Gets 15 Months for Damaging Native American Petroglyphs

Paintballer will spend 15 months in prison after defacing Native American petroglyphs with paintballs in March 2010.
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According to the Las Vegas Sun, 21-year-old David Smith of Bullhead City, Arizona will spend 15 months in prison, pay $9,995 in restitution and perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to shooting at petrogplyphs with a paintball gun in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in March 2010. According to The Associated Press Smith will also serve one year of supervised probation after being released from prison.

Considering a March 2010 Las Vegas Sun story, it could have cost Smith more. The newspaper said fines could have been up to $100,000 and reimbursement for the cost of cleanup, which was coordinated by the National Park Service (NPS) and area tribes.

“This area in particular is incredibly sensitive and sacred to the Native American tribes of the Lower Colorado River. It’s unimaginable to think of someone having a paintball fight in the Sistine Chapel; however from the perspective of local tribal members that’s what happened here,” said Rosie Pepito, chief of cultural resource management for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, in a March 2010 statement.

The August 22 Las Vegas Sun story reported that members of six Colorado River Native American tribes addressed the court on May 18.

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It was then that Smith plead guilty to unlawful defacement of an archaeological resource, which is a felony and a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. The act was passed to protect “irreplaceable” archaeological resources that were “endangered increasingly because of the escalating commercial value of a small portion of the contents of archaeological sites.”

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Smith admitted to being in Grapevine Canyon, shooting paintball pellets at the rock art panels and that he passed signs saying it is illegal to deface the rocks.

The NPS estimates some of the petroglyphs in the Lake Mead Recreation Area were created as recent as 150 years ago, and some are more than 800 years old.

The following video was posted on YouTube March 23, 2010 by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area after the paintball incident: