Vandals go on rampage in Belle Grove Elementary

August 02, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County police arrested two boys, 9 and 15, after they allegedly went on a vandalism rampage at Belle Grove Elementary School on Sunday evening, breaking windows, ripping phones from walls, destroying the public address system and kicking in doors.

The boys, who live nearby, were charged with breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property, police said. They were issued juvenile citations and released to their parents, spokesman Officer Randy Bell said yesterday.

Authorities estimate the damage to the school in the 4500 block of Belle Grove Road at $100,000.

Officer Samuel Sweet of the Northern District, who was called to the school by neighbors about 6 p.m., discovered that several windows in the back of the school had been shattered, police said. One window was open, they said.

The boys apparently had broken out the window near the lock and unlatched it.

No one was in the school when the officer searched it, police said. Witnesses told him they saw two boys running away earlier. Others identified one of the boys.

Officer Sweet went to the 9-year-old's home and talked to him. The youth admitted to the vandalism and identified the 15-year-old, police said.

Much of the damage was repaired by noon yesterday, said Dr. Donald Wagoner, 48, principal of the school.

"The operations and maintenance crew of Anne Arundel County was absolutely fantastic in getting this school back together," Dr. Wagoner said. "I want to thank them."

But Dr. Wagoner still was able to show reporters some of the damage. On the floor of the main office lay a smashed globe, a shattered telephone and public address system console, a broken drum and at least four wall clocks with the glass coverings for the faces broken out.

Dr. Wagoner pointed to a place at the bottom of a computer console where it had been broken. The vandals had thrown it on the floor.

"It's no longer working," he said.

The vandals also overturned file cabinets and broke the glass of some picture frames, Dr. Wagoner said.

He said he first heard of the vandalism Sunday evening when Ellen Phebus, a school secretary who lives on Fifth Avenue, directly across the street from the building, called him.

"The biggest question is 'Why?' " he said yesterday. "It doesn't make any sense. It only hurts the kids."

Mrs. Phebus remembers only two previous incidents when the destruction reached the scale of the Sunday night incident.

On Halloween in 1965 and 1967, vandals overturned desks and chairs and smashed pumpkins, she said. In the 1967 incident, they damaged 50 windows and destroyed classrooms.

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