A Lewiston school building that is now used for adult education was severely vandalized by four juveniles over the weekend, according to police. The damage was estimated at $100,000 and included broken windows, graffiti, and fire extinguishers being sprayed inside the classrooms.
Police respond to the scene
The Lewiston Police Department responded to Longley Elementary School in Lewiston at approximately 4 p.m. Monday for a report of substantial vandalism inside the school building, spokesperson Lt. Derrick St. Laurent said in a news release. Officers met with the custodian who made the call upon arrival at the scene.
The custodian told the officers that he had discovered the damage when he entered the building to prepare for the evening classes. He said that he had last been in the building on Friday afternoon and that everything was normal then.
The officers entered the building and observed extensive damage throughout the school. They saw broken windows, smashed computers, overturned furniture, and graffiti on the walls and floors. They also noticed that several fire extinguishers had been discharged inside the classrooms, creating a thick layer of dust and debris.
Four suspects identified and charged
The officers reviewed the surveillance footage from the school and identified four suspects who had entered the building through a window on Saturday night. The suspects were all juveniles, ranging in age from 12 to 15 years old.
The officers located and interviewed the suspects, who admitted to their involvement in the vandalism. They were charged with aggravated criminal mischief, a Class C felony, and released to their parents pending their court appearance.
Lt. St. Laurent said that the motive for the vandalism was unclear, but that it appeared to be a random act of destruction. He said that the suspects did not have any prior connection to the school or its staff.
School district reacts to the incident
The Longley Elementary School building is currently used for the Lewiston Adult Education program, which offers classes in English as a second language, high school equivalency, college preparation, and career training.
The Lewiston School Committee member Janet Beaudoin said that she was shocked and saddened by the vandalism. She said that the school district was working with the police and the insurance company to assess the damage and repair the building as soon as possible.
She said that the adult education classes were temporarily suspended until further notice, but that the district was looking for alternative locations to resume them. She said that the district was committed to providing quality education for its adult learners, who come from diverse backgrounds and face many challenges.
She also said that she hoped that the incident would not deter people from enrolling in the adult education program, which she described as a valuable resource for the community.