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Blue Bear Vandal Suspect Arrested, Released

DENVER (CBS4)- Police in Denver have arrested a man suspected of throwing bright green paint on the big blue bear in downtown Denver.

Joseph Rivas was arrested on Tuesday. Rivas, 21, was arrested for investigation of criminal mischief, a felony.

"The detective subsequently followed the evidence he found at the scene initially and tracked it back to the place that the paint was purchased and was able to find out who purchased it and tracked it back to who had it last," said Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

The Denver District Attorney's Office did not accept the charges for which Rivas was arrested. Police are looking for new evidence in the case and hope to re-arrest Rivas and that the DA's office will accept those charges.

"They didn't feel like they had a likelihood of conviction with what we gave them. So obviously that happens on occasion so we have to go back to the drawing board and say what are we missing here," said Jackson.

The big blue bear sculpture was defaced with bright green paint on March 31. The damage was estimated at $11,000.

The bear titled "I See What You Mean" looks into the Colorado Convention Center windows in downtown Denver.

Blue Bear Green 1 (gurney)
(credit: Jeff Gurney)

Police believe Rivas pelted the bear with balloons filled with green paint to partially cover the sculpture.

On April 3, a crane lifted workers high above the sculpture for a power wash that pelted the green paint off the back of the bear.

The bear also needed some hand scrubbing and repainting to remove all traces of the green paint.

The blue bear gets a power wash after being vandalized (credit: CBS)

Police have not released a possible motive for the vandalism.

"Our decision to decline to file doesn't make any statement one way or another about a person's guilt or innocence. What we are simply saying when we decline to file is that we had what we felt was enough evidence to prove that charge," said Denver DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough.

Rivas bonded out of jail. CBS4 tracked him down at his home in Lakewood. He refused to answer questions regarding the case.

Police said they arrested Rivas while he was in art class in art school.

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