Lincoln Memorial vandal engraves letters with penny, police say

A vandal has been arrested after police say he was caught engraving letters into the Lincoln Memorial on Monday.

U.S. Park Police say an officer caught the suspect using a penny to engrave the letters "HYPT MAEK" into the fifth pillar on the north side of the Lincoln Memorial.

The suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Nurtilek Bakirov, a student from the Kyrgyz Republic, was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property. Officials said the maximum penalty Bakirov could face is 10 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.

The National Park Service said its conservation team was determining the best process to fix the structure which was opened to the public in 1922.

"We are still evaluating possible options. This type of damage is in some ways more difficult to address than something on the surface like a paint or a graffiti of that nature," architectural conservator Justine Bello. "We'll have some different options over the next days and weeks to see what if any course of action there is to take, but until we know what that course of action is we can't really comment on the level of effort or amount of money that would be involved to do so."