News

Photo leads to arrest in EPA school vandalism

Police arrested a juvenile suspect Tuesday in connection with the weekend vandalisms of two East Palo Alto grade schools, alleging the boy left behind a Polaroid photograph of himself at the crime scene.

"He's a former student," said Detective Jeff Liu. "He had no business being at the school."

The vandals struck the evenings of Saturday and Sunday, police said, severely trashing Edison-McNair Academy, a school of 400 fifth through eighth-graders, and also causing damage to nearby Cesar Chavez Academy.

At Edison-McNair, they smashed windows, televisions and computer screens and splashed gang-related graffiti on walls, prompting cancellation of classes today to allow for clean up and a police investigation, said principal Ramon Honea.

The vandals also destroyed LED and overhead projectors and stole a laptop.

Vandals also caused some damage at Cesar Chavez Academy, although not enough to cause class cancellations.

Damages to both schools are estimated at $30,000.

Cesar Chavez administrators reported to East Palo Alto police today that the Polaroid photo of the boy, apparently self-taken, had been found on campus.

Liu said he could not tell by the picture if it was taken during the commission of the vandalism.

The juvenile was interviewed by police and released to his parents pending prosecution of burglary and vandalism, Liu said.

Police are still searching for other suspects.

The vandals reportedly rummaged through most of Edison-McNair's classrooms, but the hardest hit were the school's eighth grade classrooms, prompting officials to believe students may be responsible.

"Because of the classrooms that were targeted I think that there is some student influence," Honea said. "It seems to be eighth-grade focused."

The events have prompted Wells Fargo Bank to pledge up to $10,000 to help with the recovery. Wells Fargo Bank Peninsula Regional President Bob Ceglio hopes other local businesses will contribute so classes can resume as normal.

Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of the second semester and missing a day is "going to affect the flow of the schedule," Honea said. He said Edison-McNair students will have to attend school for one extra day at the end of the year.

But Honea is keeping positive. "We are hoping to use this experience to make a strong school and community that comes together against stuff like this," he said.

"The three tenets of our school are safety, respect and responsibility. This breaks all three of them," he said. "I feel like I'm in the aftermath of a hurricane. It makes no sense, but we have to deal with it."

Bank to donate $10,000 to repair vandalism

— Bay City News Service

Comments

Posted by GSB, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 23, 2008 at 10:46 am

I guess the best kind of criminal is a stupid one, that way they can be easily caught.


Posted by Frederick, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Kudos to Wells Fargo for helping out with repairs.

A good future investment would be for video surveillance cameras on all K-12 campuses. PAUSD has had continuing problems with vandalism, as well.

We need to put criminal elements on notice that there are strict deterrents in place. We should also be prosecuting those caught to the fullest extent of the law.

Appropriate punishment for young vandals would be forced community service that involves *compulsory* participation in repair of destroyed property, accompanied by a compulsory public apology, in the public square.


Posted by keanolo, a resident of University South
on Jan 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm

This otrageous destruction of both schools was definitely Mexican street gang related. The spray painted graffitti was done in the color blue to signify Sureno o Trece(13), synomous with Southern Mexican gang membership. Blue is the color symbol of their gang. All things are exhalted and signified via the color Blue. Isn't it truly a shame the here in the Bay area we have to tolerate such barbarism? If we don't do something about this soon Palo alto will be infected and slowly it will succumb to the same lawlessness and violence which is East Palo Alto.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm

The whole thing sounds like gang initiation including the polaroid photo (who has polaroid cameras nowadays?) This guy should be watched both by the parents and the police and kept away from his so called friends (or as is probably the case the older siblings/cousins friends).


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 24, 2008 at 9:21 am

keanolo,
Are you some kind of expert? Us and them, huh? That'll go far.


Posted by Servant, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 25, 2008 at 11:11 am

Its very sad to see that these are young teens that are going down the criminal path if they are not punished and taught a lesson..I am glad that I serve an Awesome God and to him nothing is impossible!! He has the power to get these teens out of trouble.My prayer together with my Pastor and former church members will start working immediately to see this city full of the Glory of God..Amen!!


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