LITTLE HAVANA (CBS4)- A 70-pound, fiberglass rooster that was a landmark in Little Havana and that was stolen last Friday and vandalized has been returned. Now CBS4 has learned it may have been defaced on the campus of Florida International University.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4's Peter D'Oench, a witness says saw "two gentlemen with two spray cans" vandalizing the rooster by parking lot number 6 in a lot just outside the F.I.U. football stadium and just before last Saturday's football game against the University of Central Florida.
"When I saw it I thought, what are they doing with this big chicken thing. I thought it was a sorority thing," said the witness, who asked that she not be identified.
She said she is speaking out because she does not think this prank was very funny.
"I think it was a terrible prank," said the witness. "Things like that make the place where I work look bad and it draws a lot of unnecessary attention to the campus."
A spokeswoman for F.I.U. told CBS4 the school had "no comment."
The rooster was stolen early Friday morning from the outside of the El Pub restaurant at 1548 S.W. 8th St. On Wednesday night, it was returned to the office of Pablo Canton, the Administrator of the Neighborhood Enhancement Team at 1275 N.W. 1st St.
Canton had originally painted the popular rooster with U.S. and American flags. He believes the culprits had heard about him through an earlier report in our news partner, The Miami Herald.
"I am very happy to have it back," said Canton. "The culrpits did the right thing. They returned it properly. They could have put it in the Everglades. I have no hard feelings. It was a prank."
Canton said he did not know where the two young men were from and did not ask for their names. he hopes that charges will not be filed.
Police say there is still an "open investigation" and no decision has been made on charges.
"They were very remorseful," said Canton. "They said they would never do it again. They said they would pay for damages and the costs and even paint it and said they would perform community hours."
Canton says he was struck by their sincerity.
Canton said he would be at the restaurant on Saturday morning and would repaint the rooster with the U.S. and Cuban flags.
He said roosters are admired in Little Havana.
Inside the restaurant, customers were glad to see the rooster returned.
"It's a classic fraternity prank," said customer and Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, a former Mayor of Miami. "I'm glad that it was recovered. That were pranks that I saw that were much worse during my undergraduate years at Villanova University."
His nephew, Andrew Suarez, who is an F.I.U. graduate, said, "I feel if they brought it back and there was not much damage, then that's ok. But I would tell themj: don't do it again. Don't do it again."
Another customer, Alex Montaner, was not pleased. "I think some people have no respect for art," he said.
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