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Tagger who L.A. mayor offered to mentor is arrested again

July 2, 2009 |  2:47 pm

A tagger whom the Los Angeles mayor once offered to mentor after he was photographed scrawling graffiti on a bus was arrested again today for allegedly tagging a tunnel and another bus.

The 17-year-old boy known as Zoner was arrested at about 1:20 p.m. when he surrendered to sheriff's detectives who earlier in the day served a search warrant at his home. The teenager was booked on suspicion of felony vandalism. Sheriff’s investigators claim he scrawled his street name on an MTA bus and other property.

“He started tagging again. Sadly, he is back at the buses again." said Lt. Erik Ruble. "This time it was the Red Line and a bus. You think he would learn after the first time.”

In 2007, when Zoner was a 15-year-old student at Santee Educational Complex south of downtown, he scrawled his nickname on the outside window of a city bus carrying Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Schools Supt. David L. Brewer, among others.

The act was captured by a photographer and appeared on the front page of The Times. In the aftermath, Villaraigosa offered to help the boy by becoming his mentor. But Villaraigosa ran into a host of obstacles. According to sheriff investigators, the mayor did not mentor the boy.

A Santee school principal at the time called the brazen act a "cry for help" from a troubled youth who needed counseling. Zoner’s brush with infamy occurred as the mayor and superintendent were inaugurating an MTA bus stop at the school that would eliminate a two-block walk that exposed students to dangers of life in the area. When the bus stopped one block from the school, the youth struck.

—Richard Winton