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Mysterious poster removed; artist identified, facing charges


PosterA mysterious poster that alarmed Salida High School administrators who discovered it February 5 was removed by sheriff’s deputies the same day.  The metal building on which the poster was attached is located within the county less than a city block from the school.  The poster was clearly visible from the school entrance.

The cardboard poster, measuring three feet by four feet, contains a graphic drawing of two human brains side by side in the upper panel.  Below those are images of two assault-style rifles, painted in vibrant red, one above the other.  In the center of the poster is a black horizontal stripe.  Black shadowing frames the entire work.  The poster had been attached to the building ten feet above ground level.  It was secured with glue and several nails.  Neither the building owner nor the person leasing the building knew of its presence before being contacted by deputies.

School staff and law enforcement officers were alarmed by the poster’s dark message given recent events in Newtown and Aurora, as well as the fact that the poster was discovered just one day after Salida officers investigated an incident in which a young man dressed in black had intruded into the school and was later arrested. 

A sheriff’s detective and district attorney’s investigator devoted several hours attempting to identify the poster’s creator and to decipher its cryptic message.  Those efforts included interviewing numerous persons and notifying law enforcement agencies in neighboring counties.  A bar code found on the back of the carton was traced to a Denver distribution center.  Investigators transmitted the image of the drawing to Colorado Bureau of Investigation; FBI Crypto Unit in Quantico, Virginia; Colorado Department of Corrections Gang Intelligence Unit; and Colorado Information Analysis Center operated by Colorado State Patrol in Denver.

Eventually the poster’s alleged creator was identified.  On February 14, a summons was issued to local artist James Edward Descant, 52, of Salida.  He is charged with criminal trespass, a petty offence; and criminal tampering, a misdemeanor.