Lens replacement on new radio tower $10,000

Historic City News learned today that during the past two-week period, someone, likely armed with a high-power rifle, shot out the flashing LED strobe at the top of the new county-owned 800MHz radio tower in the 5800 block of CR-208.

St Johns County Sheriff’s Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw reported that the tower maintenance company was notified when deputies discovered that the beacon was not flashing. The beacon is required by the FCC and FAA as a warning to low-flying commercial and private aircraft.

The beacon allows all air traffic to observe the tower — especially under cloudy conditions or at night. Since these towers are a new addition to our skyline, they pose an increased hazard.

When the repairman scaled the 250′ tower to replace the lamp, what he found was two apparent bullet holes in the lens. The trip up the tower and replacement lens were estimated to cost $10,000; according to Kelshaw.

Communication towers fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. Kelshaw told reporters that, due to the amount of damage sustained, the crime is a federal felony with possible jail time for conviction.

Anyone with information concerning this crime is asked to contact the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at (904) 824-8304. You can remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a cash reward by calling CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477).

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