The East Lake man charged with allegedly slashing tires on multiple Jeeps and other vehicles along the Outer Banks since July denied even knowing about the vandalism during his first appearance in court on Monday.
Richard G. Perrot, 62, was arrested Sunday on six counts of damaging property in connection with a series of tire slashings at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Chief Judge Terrance W. Boyle presided over the hearing in the federal courthouse in downtown Elizabeth City Monday afternoon.
U.S. Federal Wildlife Officer Jay Eddy arrested Perrot on Sunday around 3 p.m. after his vehicle was spotted at the parking lot adjacent to off-road vehicle Ramp 23 south of the village of Salvo.
Just two days earlier, the same vehicle was seen at the Coquina Beach parking lot on Bodie Island, where tires on vehicles had been vandalized previously.
Eddy said Perrot backed into a parking spot next to a Jeep Cherokee, opened and closed his doors and then left the scene.
Tires on the Jeep were found with a 1/4-inch wide cut, which matched the damage that has been found on other vehicles since July.
Since the beginning of 2019, at least 66 vehicle tires have been slashed at seashore parking lots. Additional tires have been slashed in the northern Dare County beach towns. The majority of the vehicles that were vandalized were sport utility vehicles.
After pulling over Perrot on N.C. 12 and conducting a search, Eddy said he found a pair of small pocket knives in Perrot’s possession with a blade size that matched the cut in the vandalized tires.
“I absolutely do not know what he is talking about,” Perrot said when asked for a response by Judge Boyle. “I backed in to the spot, got out and saw I was too close to the next spot and just left.”
Assistant United States Attorney Daniel W. Smith initially proposed allowing Perrot to be released from custody and promise to stay off Department of Interior property until the case is resolved.
And while additional charges are pending, the nature of the current charges would limit Perrot from being held in lieu of a large bond or other custody orders.
Boyle expressed concerns with the pretrial release conditions, and instead proposed a mental health evaluation be conducted along with a requirement that Perrot wear a tracking device.
During the discussion, Boyle related a case last month in his courtroom of a Winston-Salem man who admitted to vandalized the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 2018 to this case as what he called “vandalism terrorism”.
An order detailing the pretrial release agreement was not yet available. Both the prosecuting attorney and Perrot’s defense counsel declined to comment on the case.
Perrot will next be scheduled for an arraignment hearing, which could happen as early the next session of federal district court in Elizabeth City on September 9.