The burned remains of a Jackie Robinson statue were found in a trash can by officials after it was reported stolen from a Little League baseball field in Wichita, Kansas, on January 25. As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, the life-sized bronze statue in honor of the Black baseball legend was erected after the League 42 nonprofit raised over $50,000 for the initiative.
Authorities had initially shared photos of the crime scene after the theft. The images showed that the only part that remained of the stolen statue was its ankle area.
In the wake of the theft, the Kansas Crimestoppers organization offered a $5,000 reward for information that could lead to the recovery of the statue. Another $2,500 reward was also offered for information that could lead to an arrest.
But CNN reported that the burned remains of the stolen statue were found in another park on Tuesday. Wichita Police Department spokesperson Andrew Ford said the discovery was made after officers went to the location to investigate a report about a trash can fire.
“Shortly after extinguishing the fire, the fire department saw what appeared to be pieces of the Jackie Robinson statue, which is not salvageable at this time,” Ford said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Police on Monday also announced that they had found a truck suspected to be linked to the theft. “There will be an arrest but we’re going to make sure that when we do, we will have a solid case,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said.
League 42, which is named in honor of Robinson, is a “youth baseball league comprised primarily of urban children ages 5 – 14,” its website states. Robinson, who was the first Black player in Major League Baseball, wore number 42 during his professional career.
Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson had told CNN on Sunday that the statue of the baseball legend and Civil Rights activist “was a symbol of hope” in the city.
“I hate to see that the statue was not in one piece,” Johnson on Tuesday said in reference to what had been left of the statue. “I do want everyone to know we are undeterred to make sure that statue gets rebuilt and put back there for our community, for League 42, for young people, that symbol of hope will be only gone for a short time.”
A GoFundMe has since been set up to help raise funds to erect another statue of the baseball legend. The theft is also currently under investigation.
“If it turns out it was racially motivated, then obviously that is a deeper societal issue and it certainly would make this a much more concerning theft,” Bob Lutz, who is the Executive Director of the Little League nonprofit, said, per The Associated Press. “We’ll wait and see what this turns out to be.”