School vandals shatter 16 windows, 3 doors

Damages of $3,600 are worst Mendenhall River elementary has experienced, officials say

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Vandals and arsonists have shattered the peaceful environment around Mendenhall River Community School.

Over the weekend, 16 windows and three glass doors of the school were smashed. A computer was destroyed. Another computer, a television and some compact discs were removed from a classroom and found in the woods.

"We had a door knocked out in 1994 but we've never had anything as bad as this one," said first-grade teacher Deedie Sorenson, who learned of the vandalism from a parent living nearby.

Juneau School District Superintendent Peggy Cowan estimates the damage at $3,600.

"Any vandalism to public buildings, especially schools, is disappointing but fortunately we don't have any summer programs in that building right now," Cowan said.

Police received a fire alarm from the school at 12:05 a.m. Sunday and arrived at the scene quickly. They didn't see any fire but found the windows and doors shattered. Lt. Walt Boman said the police are still investigating and don't have any suspects.

In addition to the vandalism on the weekend, three trees have been set on fire since last Wednesday. A tree at the school's baseball field was torched on Wednesday. On Thursday, a tree on the northwest side of the campus was burned. On Sunday night, a tree house on an empty lot on Riverside Drive was burned down.

"We believe the tree house fire was not related to the previous two cases," said Richard Etheridge, fire marshal for Capital City Fire and Rescue. "There are some similarities between the first two fires. And we suspect that some kids mischievously set the fire."

The police are investigating whether any of the three fires was related to the vandalism.

Neighbors near the school are concerned about their safety.

"I am highly irritated by the vandalism but the fire thing got me scared," said Elise Pringle, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1994. "I get panicked when I see smoke now. Whoever set the fire needs to stop. It is not fun if people get hurt."



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