Advertisement

Beloved Jackie Robinson Statue Stolen, Burned and Destroyed in Wichita: 'Our Community Is Devastated'

Police said the thieves cut the statue at its ankles and "hauled" it off before burning it at a park miles away

<p>League 42 Foundation/X</p> Jackie Robinson Statue

League 42 Foundation/X

Jackie Robinson Statue
  • A beloved statue of Jackie Robinson, erected by nonprofit youth baseball organization League 42, was stolen from its base in Wichita

  • On Tuesday, the Wichita Fire Department discovered pieces of the statue burned and destroyed

  • No arrests have been made in the case

  • League 42 is asking for donations to replace the beloved statue

The Jackie Robinson statue that formerly stood at a youth baseball field in Wichita, Kansas was found burned and destroyed in a park miles away, police confirmed on Tuesday. "Our community is devastated," the Wichita Police Department said.

The beloved statue was owned and erected by the League 42 Foundation, a nonprofit youth baseball league founded in honor of Robinson.

According to local news outlet KAKE, the statue was stolen from its mount just after midnight local time on Thursday. Police shared images with the outlet shortly after, showing that the life-sized statue's body was cut off at the ankles by the thieves.

On Tuesday, the Wichita Fire Department discovered pieces of the statue burned beyond repair when they responded to a reported trash can fire at a park.

Related: Jackie Robinson's Life in Photos

<p>League 42 Foundation/X</p>

League 42 Foundation/X

Wichita city council member Brandon Johnson told reporters that his team was initially hoping to find a "complete and intact statue," before the discovery. "We know now that we need to raise the money to replace it and we will do so," he said on Tuesday morning, per KAKE.

Johnson added, "We will make sure that we find a way to get that statue back. We will continue to invest in this community, and this tragic incident will not remove that hope that we all have for the area."

<p>Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP</p> What's left of the Jackie Robinson statue in Wichita

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP

What's left of the Jackie Robinson statue in Wichita

Police have spoken to more than 100 people as they search for the thieves, KAKE reported, but no arrests have been made yet.

Chief of Police Joe Sullivan urged the thieves, and anyone involved in the destruction of the statue, to come forward.

"For those of you who are in any way involved in this...this means whether you were involved in stealing the statue, whether or not you accepted the statue, you were part of the destruction of the statue ... it is only a matter of time, and in your best interest, to turn yourself in, come forward, and admit your part in this," Chief Sullivan said, per the outlet.

Related: Mookie Betts Calls His Jackie Robinson Documentary the 'Film Jackie Would've Wanted to Tell'

The original statue was built by artist John Parsons, who has since died. "Fortunately, the mold from his work is still viable, and the statue that reappears at McAdams Park will be the work of John Parsons," said League 42 director Bob Lutz.

As the foundation works on the production of a new statue, League 42 has created a GoFundMe account to benefit the replacement. Any surplus donations will go to operational needs, including education programs. As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser has over 2,500 donations totaling more than $122,000 of its $150,000 goal.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

On Wednesday, the foundation celebrated Robinson's birthday. The iconic athlete died in 1972 at age 53.

"League 42 tries to embody the spirit of Jackie Robinson, our namesake, who was born on this day, Jan. 31, 105 years ago," Lutz wrote in a message shared on GoFundMe. "As law enforcement searches for the culprits of this crime, we remain devoted to our mission of providing low-cost baseball and education opportunities for our 600 kids, ages 5-14."

"They are as heartbroken over this theft as any of us and we are determined to replace the statue," Lutz added.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.