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Vandals make mess of school

NEW CASTLE – Vandals broke into Riverside School in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 20. They stole items from student lockers, rifled through cabinets and sprayed hallways with fire extinguishers.

As of Tuesday afternoon, New Castle police officer Chris Sadler said police had not apprehended any suspects in the case.

Riverside principal Chuck Shupe said he received a call at 2:45 a.m. Thursday at home that the school’s fire alarm had gone off. Burning Mountains Fire District firefighters responded to the call.



Shupe said footprints left by the vandals in the thick layer of fire extinguisher foam indicated they belonged to feet as large as an adult’s.

“The footprints were the size of my feet,” Shupe said. “My best guess is they’re in their late teens.”



The vandals accessed the school from the roof, then used fire extinguishers to break a window to enter the main office. There, Shupe said, they went through some cabinets, then covered the eighth grade hallway with extinguisher foam.

“A lot of kids don’t lock their lockers,” Shupe said, “so there were some things taken from student lockers.”

Shupe said it took school staff and environmental health workers all day Friday, Saturday and most of the day on Sunday to clean up the mess.

“There was a ton of dust everywhere,” Shupe said. “We had to replace ceiling tiles, and we brought in a environmental hygiene company from Rifle to remove the foam and check the air.”

Shupe said he knows of three students who missed at least two days of school because of the dust.

“They had an allergic reaction to the dust,” he said. “And parents who have children with asthma and other upper respiratory problems chose to keep their kids out of school until the mess was cleaned up.”

Shupe said police at the crime scene took fingerprints that will be matched against existing police records. If the vandals don’t have criminal records, their fingerprints can be matched if they’re involved in illegal activities in the future.

“We’ve been broken into probably a half-dozen times where our safe or other items have been stolen,” Shupe said. “But this case was flat out vandalism.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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