A group of drunken "young adults" heavily damaged a steel turnstile during a party at the Lafayette Courts public housing complex early Friday, the head of the city Housing Authority police said yesterday.
"It was something to do," Colonel William H. Matthews said. "There was a party, folks came outside and were swinging on the device."
Colonel Matthews said a witness told Housing Authority police how the recently installed turnstile was ripped from the wall of the building at 200 Aisquith St. The vandals also tore the steel control box off the top of the 7-foot-high turnstile and smashed it.
A suspect was questioned in connection with incident, but no charges were filed, Colonel Matthews said, adding that a security guard who was assigned to the area near the turnstile had called in sick the night of the incident.
The $7,000 turnstile is being repaired and should be operational by the end of the month, said Rick Marsh, project manager for Superior Automatic Door, the firm hired to install turnstiles in all 17 city public housing high-rises.
All of the turnstiles are expected to be installed by spring, Mr. Marsh said.
"Literally, physically by hand, they pulled it out of the wall. They broke the studs out of the floor -- three-eighths-of-an-inch studs," Mr. Marsh said.
"They had to be working on it for a while to do this. That's pretty heavy duty."
Mr. Marsh said the vandals also stole three security alarms from back doors of the Lafayette Courts buildings.
He said his firm installed the alarms -- which cost $300 each. It will cost about $3,500 to repair the turnstile, he added.
"They lasted two days," he said about the alarms. "We're trying to put them in for their own protection, and they are tearing them out as fast as we put them in. As we were putting up the turnstiles, one of the tenants walked by and told us, 'As soon as you put it in, we're going to tear it out.' "
On Oct. 23, workers began installing turnstiles in two Lafayette Courts buildings -- one in the 200 block of Aisquith St. and another in the 100 block.
When the turnstiles become operational, tenants will use special access cards to open the computerized devices and gain entry to the buildings.
The buildings at Lafayette Courts were the first Housing Authority high-rises to receive the steel turnstiles.