Police responded to a call Saturday morning that someone was sawing down the tree, which is located in the Don Henning Roundabout at 168th Place. When officers arrived on scene, the vandals were long gone, leaving behind a metal wedge and a severely damaged tree.
"We're going to try to do everything we can to recover evidence from the items," Covington police officer Kyle Riches said in a news release.
City arborist Bill Dealy said the cut was made with a hand saw and went through 80 percent of the tree trunk.
"That damage is a death sentence for the tree," he said.
The city's annual tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for Saturday evening at 5 p.m., and officials say the event will go on as planned.
The city's public works crew has secured the tree for the lighting, but it will have to be removed soon after. The 35-foot tall spruce is valued at roughly $10,000, according to city officials.
Covington Mayor Margeret Harto, who will provide opening remarks at Saturday's ceremony, was shocked to learn of the vandalism.
"It is sad that someone would be responsible for such a selfish act in a season that's all about giving,' she said. "I know this community won't let it dampen their spirit."