Meet the man who helped nab the Griffey statue vandal

Kelsey Klevenberg saw someone break off the bat of the Ken Griffey Jr. statue, then helped police catch the vandal. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Kelsey Klevenberg says he was zoning off during a late work meeting Tuesday when his eyes fixed on something strange outside.

A man had climbed onto the new Ken Griffey Jr. statue next to Safeco Field and was putting his weight on “The Kid’s” bronze Louisville Slugger bat.

“He grabbed the bat and pushed all of his weight on it like it was a very heavy lawn mower,” Klevenberg said from inside his office Wednesday. “He took it and threw it in the air triumphantly and then started heading north right on the sidewalk.”

Not wasting a second, Klevenberg took off for the elevator.

Once outside he got co-worker Erin Hill on the phone, she directed him toward the man he had seen at the sculpture – he was walking north on First Avenue South. The man was seen swinging the bat, banging it against the curb, trash cans even on the side of Safeco Field, witnesses said.

“I said red sweatshirt. The guy’s wearing a red sweatshirt, cause we’re watching him walk down First Avenue. I told Kelsey to go on the north side of Safeco,” Hill said.

Klevenberg, who is director of inside sales at the software company Zipwhip, then hung up and dialed 911. Seattle police, he said, were there within minutes.

“I was pissed and the main goal was to get him arrested,” Klevenberg said.

The 35-year-old suspect was arrested and booked into the King County Jail. A judge found probable cause to hold him on $10,000 bail for investigation of malicious mischief and theft.

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office the man has been sought on 22 warrants since 2001.

Mariner’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said the bat was returned to the team.

Hale said the team is consulting with Lou Cella, who created the sculpture, to decide whether to put the same bat back in place or have a new one created. She said they are also looking into ways to make it tougher for vandals to steal the bat.

Hale said the team thanks Klevenberg for his quick response. She said they are planning to thank him in person.

Though Klevenberg received a standing ovation from colleagues when he returned to the office after the chase, he brushes off any notion that he did anything out of the ordinary.

“I was just helping out where I could, and I’d expect any of my friends and family to do the same thing if they saw what I did.”

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