Harvey A. Updyke, 62, reportedly really really likes the Alabama Crimson Tide . . . and does not think much of trees. Police arrested Updyke in the poisoning of the historic oak “Toomer’s” trees at Auburn where victories have long been celebrated by students and faculty.
Updyke allegedly poisoned the trees after the Tigers won the national football championship on Jan. 10. He was linked to a call into a radio station where a man bragged about killing the trees: “”OK, let me tell you what I did the weekend after the Iron Bowl,” ‘Al from Dadeville’ told Finebaum on air. “I went to Auburn, Alabama, because I live 30 miles away and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike80DF in ’em. … They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die.” He then signed off with “Roll Damn Tide.”
The trees are named for Rolling Toomer’s Corner (a reference to Toomer’s Drugs at the corner of Magnolia and College streets in Auburn).
Experts now fear that the powerful herbicide will migrate to other trees — spreading the destruction. The herbicide has a half-life of 12-15 months, and can stop growth for up to 7 years.
One site claims that Updyke is a former state trooper and was apprehended through a call left with a professor of “turfgrass management” at Auburn University that matched the voice on the radio show. (There is a turfgrass management professor at Auburn University?)
(a) A person commits the crime of criminal mischief in the first degree if, with intent to damage property, and having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such a right, he or she inflicts damages to property:
(1) In an amount exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500); or
(2) By means of an explosion.
(b) Criminal mischief in the first degree is a Class C felony.
College officials have stated that the amount was “a very lethal dose” and hold out little hope for the trees.
I understand the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn, but nothing could justify such an act of senseless destruction. I am a fierce Bears fan but I have never thought of poisoning cheese products to retaliate against the Packers.