A 53-year-old James E. Dees told police he'd been going through a “really rough time,” and has anger issues.
A 53-year-old Endeavor Air pilot was arrested Friday after police say he tagged bathrooms, elevators and cars at the Tallahassee International Airport with messages supporting President Donald Trump and racial slurs.
The graffiti the Tallahassee Police Department traced to James E. Dees included things like “#MAGA,” a nod to the president’s popularized slogan, "Send them all back" and multiple racial slurs directed at African-Americans and Hispanics, court records show.
The vandalism began just two days before Christmas in 2018.
A few tags include anti-Trump graffiti, perhaps to throw police off his trail, including "Impeachment is coming" and "Impeach Trump the Traitor." Police pointed to 20 different instances of vandalism that they believe are connected to Dees.
Dees, of Perry, was captured after a surveillance camera was hidden in an elevator at the airport following the spate of graffiti. He is charged with nine counts of criminal mischief and bonded out of jail at about 1 p.m. Friday.
An estimate for damages is close to $200, according to court records. He faces a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Endeavor Air is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. A Delta spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of Endeavor stating that "These actions in no way reflect the values of Endeavor Air, and this individual is no longer employed by the airline.”
On Dec. 12, investigators believed they captured footage of the graffiti in progress. Dees, who at that time had only been identified as a pilot, entered the elevator in the airport’s parking lot at about 5 p.m.
In the video, according to court records, he can be seen turning to one panel, making motions consistent with writing, then exiting the elevator.
On Jan. 7, Dees was approached by Tallahassee Police officers as he waited for his outbound flight. When he was told about the covert camera, he admitted to the graffiti.
He confirmed he did the writing on vehicles in the parking lot, in the elevator and in the men’s bathroom, telling police he has been going through a “really rough time,” and has anger issues.
He was told he was allowed to leave, and he began to board the flight. Instead, he returned and told police he was not in the “right state of mind” to fly a plane, and he left the airport.
The arrest comes on the same day that airport officials disclosed that they are working to repair an aircraft landing instrument that has caused multiple flight delays after it was damaged earlier this week by a man who drove a FedEx truck onto the runway.
Contact Karl Etters at email@example.com or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
This story originally published to tallahassee.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.