A helping hand: Vandalism victim given new garage door

A view of the new garage door at the Inman residence on Franklin Street in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The Inman's garage door was spray painted with racist and offensive graffiti during a vandalism spree two weekends ago. The new door and installation were donated to the Inmans by Overhead Door of South Central Indiana. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

A local family pictured trying to remove spray paint from their garage door in downtown Columbus after an extensive vandalism spree last month said they received "a bright spot in a place of darkness" when a local company donated and installed a new door.

Cummins Inc. environmental engineer Josh Inman was referring to workers from Overhead Door of South Central Indiana as he watched crews from the firm arriving Tuesday to replace his graffiti-covered garage door – at no charge.    

Inman and his wife, holistic chiropractor Kathleen Inman, were two of more than 50 victims of a March 27-28 vandalism spree in various sections of Columbus, which resulted in damage to homes, schools, churches, sculptures and more. Three 16-year-old Columbus juveniles are being detained in the incident, accused of spray painting profanity and racist and homophobic messages around the downtown area and in an area off 25th Street.

On the morning of March 28, Josh Inman went outside and discovered that his garage, located off the alley behind their home at 728 Franklin St., was vandalized. The garage door and the brick of the garage were damaged, he said.  

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"A lot of racial slurs, derogatory things were written on the brick of the garage itself, as well as on our neighbor’s property," Josh Inman said.     

It was bad enough that the vandalism was committed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and mass layoffs, Inman said. But he was especially bothered how the vandals used graffiti to disparage other individuals, he said.

"That made it that much worse," Josh Inman said. "The fact that so many people are struggling, whether it’s job loss, sickness, worry … this is something else we just don’t need."

After the news appeared on The Republic’s website, Overhead Door of South Central Indiana owner and president Chuck Wells learned what had taken place. Wells, who was the newspaper’s publisher from 2007 through 2018, said his initial thoughts focused on how mindless the vandalism was.

Among the dozens of acts of vandalism in downtown Columbus was spray paint on the iconic Large Arch in front of the Bartholomew County Public Library, as well as damage to churches, funeral homes and schools. In addition, the wall surrounding the Inn at Irwin Gardens was spray-painted with a COVID-19 reference. imilar vandalism was also discovered in an area north of 25th Street, along Pearl Street and Lafayette Avenue.  

Besides vandalism, the suspects are also accused of stealing items out of vehicles, police said.     

"We are better than that," Wells said.

When he read the Inmans had a garage door spray painted with profanity, Wells said he realized he was in a unique position to help.

"When bad things happen locally, people in Columbus need to step up and give back," Wells said. "I just felt like this is something we had to do."

So during the noon hour on Tuesday, Wells and two of his employees arrived at the Inman residence to replace the garage door – with materials and labor provided free of charge.  

The Thermacore insulated steel door provided to the family is considered one of the best products offered by his company, Wells said.

Inman, who said he has always known Wells to be a community-minded individual who wants to help where he could, described the free door and installation as "unbelievable."