Police: Manchester man vandalized LGBT billboard in Tolland

David Paquette, 34, of Manchester, was arrested on Tuesday for removing rainbow flags from a billboard adjacent to Interstate 84 in Tolland, according to Connecticut State Police.  

David Paquette, 34, of Manchester, was arrested on Tuesday for removing rainbow flags from a billboard adjacent to Interstate 84 in Tolland, according to Connecticut State Police.  

CT State Police / Contributed

TOLLAND — Connecticut State Police say a man was arrested Tuesday for vandalizing a Tolland Democrats billboard that expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community.

David Paquette, 34, of Manchester, has been charged with third-degree criminal mischief, according to police. Paquette was released on a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Rockville on Oct. 11, police said.

Troopers responded to a private property on Merrow Road in Tolland around 11:25 a.m. Tuesday to investigate a report that a person was actively damaging property, according to police. Police said they observed that more than a dozen rainbow flags had been removed from the billboard.

Based on footage provided by a witness, troopers identified Paquette as a suspect and arrested him at his Manchester residence, according to police. He was transported to Troop C headquarters in Tolland for processing, police said.

A photo shared to the Tolland Pride Community Facebook group on Tuesday depicted the aftermath of the alleged vandalism: Several rainbow flags lying on the ground in front of the billboard, their bright stripes visible among the green blades of the grass.

The image makes it clear that the billboard still bears scars from previous alleged attacks. White letters read "Love conquers all" against a background that has been spray-painted red.

The Tuesday incident marks the third time in three months that the billboard has been apparently targeted for destruction.

In July, Dean Andrew Colombaro, 49, of Tolland, allegedly spray-painted over the Pride flag originally painted on the sign. Colombaro was charged with second-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. He was released on a $1,000 bond.

In early August, the repaired billboard was sawed down overnight. 

caroline.tien@hearst.com