(Update) East St. John Elementary suffers ‘mindboggling’ vandalism

Published 2:39 pm Thursday, March 31, 2016

RESERVE — St. John the Baptist Parish Schools Superintendent Kevin George was furious when he heard one of the District’s schools was vandalized.

When employees arrived to work, authorities said, they saw glass doors and windows shattered.

When employees arrived to work, authorities said, they saw glass doors and windows shattered.

“You didn’t want to be in the room when I found out because I had a few choice words,” George said. “I was upset and disappointed that someone would do this to our schools. These schools are the public’s schools. It’s our entire community’s schools. For someone to want to vandalize and deface the school is just mindboggling to me.”

District employees noticed the damage to East St. John Elementary early Wednesday and reported the vandalism to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputies at approximately 7:28 a.m. Wednesday.

The school building has been vacant since it was damaged in an August fire, but employees at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, which has a temporary campus on the footprint, returned Wednesday from the Spring break and noticed the damage.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said recorded video surveillance from the school campus aided deputies in identifying two juvenile suspects.

“As deputies processed the scene for evidence, they saw the two juveniles in an adjacent field and detained them for the investigation,” Tregre said. “The juveniles, 14- and 16-years-old males, cooperated with detectives and admitted to damaging school property. Both juveniles are from Jefferson Parish. They were staying with the aunt of one of the juveniles.”

The aunt isn’t facing any charges, according to Sgt. Dane Clement.

“The juveniles broke glass and windows and discharged a fire extinguisher,” Clement said. “The workers left work Tuesday and when they returned to work Wednesday morning they discovered the damage. Authorities don’t know why the juveniles caused the damage.”

Authorities are also unaware of what they used to break the windows.

George said the juveniles broke every window at East St. John Elementary.

“The front doors were glass, they broke them and went inside,” George said. “There was one set of glass doors inside that they also destroyed. Basically, every glass on the exterior of the building that they could reach they went and used whatever they used to cause the damages.”

George said it is unclear how much repairs to the building will cost, adding he doesn’t believe this setback will hinder the district from getting a new facility.

The Sheriff’s Office estimated the destruction could cost $10,000.

Detectives charged the juveniles with criminal trespassing and felony simple criminal damage to property.

Both juveniles posted $5,500 bonds Thursday and were released.