As crews worked to remove oil splashed on a World War II memorial in South Boston on Tuesday, Boston police launched an investigation into the vandalism of several memorials, including one to fallen police officers, at Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan.

Memorials to veterans of World War I and World War II were also desecrated at the city-owned cemetery, along with others erected to veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Knights of Columbus, and the Free Masons, according to police.

Police Commissioner William Gross called the damage to the memorials “incredibly distasteful and disheartening,” and said investigators will move swiftly to identify a suspect.


“Clearly, these memorials are meant to honor and show great respect to those, whether they be veterans or police officers, who spent a lifetime in dedicated service to our city and nation,” Gross said in a statement released Tuesday night. “I find it beyond reprehensible and wrong that anyone would think it OK to damage and desecrate such hallowed grounds.”

He added, “We hope to quickly on identify and hold accountable the person response for these misguided and hateful actions.”

A spokesman for Boston police said it is too soon to say whether the vandalism is connected to the South Boston incident.

“No connection at this time has been made between the vandalism in Mattapan and the vandalism in South Boston,” said Boston police Officer James Kenneally, a department spokesman.

A picture released by police Tuesday night show the police officers’ memorial covered in a dark, liquid substance. But police have not yet determined what substance was found on that and the other memorials at Mount Hope, Kenneally said.

State Police are investigating the damage to the South Boston memorial, which was discovered Monday.

“These acts of vandalism will not be tolerated in our city,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “Together with the Boston police, we will make sure anyone involved will be held responsible.”


Boston police detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying the person or people responsible for vandalizing the memorials. Anyone with information should contact Boston police district B-3 detectives at 617-343-4712.

Community members can also report information anonymously by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at alyssa.meyers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.