A mural of George Floyd collapsed in Ohio, but there were conflicting accounts about whether the cause was a lightning strike or structural issues.
Police in Toledo said the large mural honoring Floyd — who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last May, setting off worldwide protests – was reduced to rubble around 5 p.m. Tuesday outside a building that previously housed a bar at Summit and Lagrange streets, the Toledo Blade reported.
A weather radar operated by WTVG detected a lightning strike in the block at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the station reported.
“Right before that storm hit, I just pulled in my driveway and it wasn’t down,” Susan Keller, who lives nearby, told WTVG. “I would’ve noticed it right away. I noticed it when they put it up, I would’ve noticed it when it came down.”
Police were later seen outside the building setting up a barrier around a fallen pile of bricks, WTVG reported. Keller said she hopes the “beautiful” piece gets restored as city officials differ on what exactly caused it to come down.
City building inspector Hugh Koogan told the Blade the collapse appeared to be from natural deterioration, adding that the middle of the painted brick wall had bowed recently.
“It was just age,” Koogan said. “It just came away. It happens to the older buildings.”
But the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department lists the cause of the collapse as a lightning strike based on witness reports and the scene, spokeswoman Sterling Rahe told the Blade.
The witness reported seeing lightning hit the building prior to the collapse, but Koogan said he spoke to the person and found no evidence to support the theory. The inspector also shot down assertions that rain factored into the fall.
The artist who created the mural, David Ross, said he’s unsure what to believe, noting that he received threats when the “Take a Breath” piece was unveiled last summer amid protests following Floyd’s in-custody death. Chauvin, 45, was later convicted of murder and received 22 ½ years in prison.
“When I did the mural, there was stuff on the wall that I couldn’t remove and that let me know how strong the structure was,” Ross told the Blade. “The lightning thing, that’s possible, but I know it didn’t just fall.”
Ross said he plans to rebuild the mural at a new location. The property owner, meanwhile, declined to comment but was working with a contractor to secure the site, according to the newspaper.
The building’s owner is now working to tear down the rest of the wall. City officials also released a statement saying they’ll plan a new mural or help Ross find a new location for his Floyd memorial, WTVG reported.