Police in Tempe, Arizona have arrested the man they believe is behind the bizarre “Penis Man” graffiti that has been bedeviling the city for weeks, The Arizona Republic reports. The suspect, Dustin Shomer, claims that he was arrested by two dozen heavily-armed SWAT officers.
As The Phoenix New Times reported last week, just a couple of days before his arrest, someone had been “tagging,” as it’s known in the graffiti artist community, locations around Tempe with the enigmatic graffiti. The phrase “Penis Man” began popping up all across town — on port-a-potties at road-work sites, around the Arizona State University Campus, and even an historic flour mill and the front door of Tempe’s municipal center.
Some Tempe-ites toed the line between being exasperated by the vandal and being amused by him.
“He done penisfied Starbucks!… He’s becoming very popular,” wrote one Twitter user.
“I’m willing to support whoever wins the dem primary as long as they have penis man’s endorsement,” wrote another.
Meanwhile, townsfolk speculated on his motivation. Is he running for president? Is he making some sort of social commentary? Is he trying to be the Tempe version of Banksy?
The people who wound up having to clean up the graffiti, however, didn’t find it amusing or thought-provoking at all. Nor did Tempe police, who “declared war on Penis Man,” wrote the New Times.
On Thursday, Tempe police got their suspect.
Authorities arrested Dustin Shomer, 38, and booked him into a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of 16 counts of aggravated criminal damage, eight counts of criminal damage, and one count of criminal trespassing in the first degree, said Tempe police.
Shomer himself confirmed that he’d been arrested in connection with the graffiti. In a Facebook post, he confirmed that Tempe cops had taken him in, and also suggested that the police response that brought him in might not have been proportional to the crimes he’s accused of. Specifically, he said that he’d been arrested by 25 heavily-armed SWAT officers who raided his home and car; that he’d been denied food and medical care during the 24 hours he spent in jail; and that at one point, an assault rifle was pointed into his face.
Phoenix police declined to comment on the circumstances of his arrest. However, according to a companion Phoenix New Times report, he was caught red-handed.
As of this writing, “Penis Man’s” motive remains unclear. However, other social media posts by Shomer seem to indicate that “Penis Man” was a protest against “corrupt local government.”
“Penis Man is neither man nor woman, you nor me. We are ALL Penis Man,” Shomer wrote in one post.