A man who defaced a Florida LBGTQ memorial has been ordered to write a 25-page essay on the Pulse nightclub shooting and its 49 victims.
Alexander Jerich, 20, pleaded guilty last month to criminal mischief and reckless driving in connection with a June 2021 incident in which he left 15-foot tire marks across a newly unveiled Pride flag intersection in Delray Beach, court documents show.
Jerich, with a Trump flag waving from the back of his white pickup, "stopped at the intersection and then intentionally accelerated the vehicle in an unreasonable unsafe manner in a short amount of time commonly referred to as 'burnout,'" said an arrest warrant.
The tires left a mark more than halfway across the nearly $17,000 mural, which had celebrated its ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 12, marking Pride month and the anniversary of the Pulse massacre.
Two days later, Jerich was attending a rally celebrating former President Donald Trump's birthday when he skidded dangerously across the intersection, the warrant said.
Another person who attended the rally, who identified himself as a gay man and spoke with police, said that before Jerich drove over the Pride flag colors, someone had shouted to him "tear up that gay intersection."
Jerich told Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer during a hearing last week that he has "had problems in the past with fitting in," The Palm Beach Post reported.
"I was just trying to fit in and be accepted," Jerich said.
Suskauer did not hand down a sentence; Jerich will be sentenced in June. But in the meantime, he told Jerich he was to write a 25-page essay on the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Jerich is required to write about the 49 people who were killed and the loved ones left to mourn them. Suskauer also said he wanted Jerich to include his thoughts on attacks on the LGBTQ community.
“I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community,” he said.
Suskauer indicated he will be relatively easy on Jerich in June. He said he does not want Jerich to have a felony record for the rest of his life.
But Suskauer said he would like Jerich to volunteer with a group that helps the LGBTQ community.
Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said Jerich's community service was unwelcome.
“They don’t want the defendant anywhere near our organization or our missions,” Hoch said.
Hoch, who wrote the Victim Impact Statement in the case, had requested that Jerich be banned for life from the Pride intersection.
Suskauer, though, said he may order Jerich to visit the site weekly, with his father, to help keep it clean.