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."