Somerville police looking to ID ‘person of interest’ after man allegedly urinates on flags in veterans cemetery

A Facebook post describing a man urinating on American flags in the Somerville Veterans Memorial Cemetery has sparked outrage from the online community, but the man in question hasn’t been identified yet.

Somerville police are on the case, noting that the man pictured in the post is a “person of interest” and asking anyone who knows who he is to contact the department, according to information from the department provided to Boston.com on Wednesday.

George Gatteny took to social media Monday to describe the incident and express his feelings about what he saw. He said he has since filed a report with the Somerville Police Department.

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Gatteny’s post had received nearly 16,000 comments and well over 36,000 shares as of Wednesday morning.

He wrote that he was stopped in traffic on Broadway when he saw the young man take several small flags placed before a World War II memorial statue, throw them behind the statue, and begin urinating on them. A young woman allegedly stood by as it happened.

“I started yelling at them to stop, asking him as I approached ‘what the hell he was doing,’” Gatteny wrote. “He stopped urinating, pulled up his pants and started walking out of the memorial. Both of them walked up Broadway laughing.”

While Gatteny said he followed them for a bit, he then went back to the memorial to see exactly what they had done.

He then drove in the general direction the pair had walked and took a few photos of them, he said.

In an update to the post at 10:25 a.m. Tuesday, he said he spoke with a Somerville detective, provided a statement, and submitted the photos.

The Somerville Veterans Services Department also took to social media to comment on what had happened, and to ask anyone who may know the people in question to contact police.

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“This cemetery contains the remains of heroes killed in action from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and one hero [who] died in the Beirut bombing in 1982,” the post said.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone also condemned the incident.

“If these allegations are true, they are offensive not only to our community and our own veterans, but to our entire nation and those who served and continue to serve,” he said in a statement. “Following the full investigation by the Somerville Police Department, I am confident that anyone who may be found guilty will be held fully responsible for these despicable actions.”