Vandals cause major damage to Alpenglow Elementary in Eagle River

Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 12:14
  • A broken window at Alpenglow Elementary on Monday, July 2. Anchorage School District officials estimate vandals did as much as $100,000 in damage to the school sometime Saturday night. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)
  • A stack of broken iPads and other computer equipment sits in the hallway at Alpenglow Elementary on Monday, July 2. Anchorage School District officials estimate vandals did as much as $100,000 in damage to the school sometime Saturday night. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)

UPDATE (July 5):

Police have caught a teenage boy believed to have caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to Alpenglow Elementary School in Eagle River.

The Anchorage Police Department sent out a Nixle alert on Tuesday, July 3 saying that “as a result of evidence gathered at the scene, APD School Resource Officers were able to identify the male teenager responsible for the crime.”

Police did not say what evidence led to the arrest or whether there were any other suspects in the case.

Police said the teen was contacted on Tuesday and charges were forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Vandals did an estimated $100,000 to an Eagle River elementary school Saturday night.

According to the Anchorage Police Department, police responded to an alarm at Alpenglow Elementary School at 10:54 p.m. Saturday. When officers arrived, they found someone broke two exterior windows, which the vandals used to enter the school. Once inside, the suspects broke numerous windows, put holes in walls, broke computers and other office supplies. APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said the damage is “extensive.”

“Multiple classrooms were entered and vandalized,” Oistad wrote in a Monday email.

Principal Denise Demetree-Trombley was at the school Monday to help clean up. She said the damage is extremely upsetting.

“This just doesn’t affect our school and our students, this affects the greater community,” she said.

Among the damage: at least 20 broken iPads, a smashed-up oven, a broken time clock, at least a dozen broken windows, holes in the wall, numerous broken computers, sprayed fire extinguishers and miscellaneous other broken equipment.

ASD senior director of maintenance and operations Darin Hargraves said security cameras at the school caught two or three suspects at the school. Hargraves said the district has been working with police to try and identify the suspects.

On Monday, Hargraves said as many as 20 people were at the school helping to clean up, including IT specialists, custodians, teachers and volunteers. School board member Starr Marsett also surveyed the damage Monday.

“As a community I think everyone’s responded very positively,” Hargraves said. “It’s good to see people taking the time to mobilize.”

Hargraves said district personnel should have the damage repaired by the time the school holds registration at the end of the month.

Among the people mobilized were Demetree-Trombley, whose office was covered in broken glass, scattered office supplies and other evidence of the vandalism. Even her master’s degree hanging on the wall had its glass frame broken. Demetree-Trombley was joined by several of her staff, who swept up glass and tried to restore some semblance of normalcy to the ransacked school, which suffered damage to at least seven classrooms, the computer lab, the nurse’s office and the main office.

“This takes valuable resources away from the children and I think that’s the most frustrating thing,” said Demetree-Trombley, who cut short a trip to Homer to deal with the mess.

The vandalism is the latest in a string of high-profile incidents in Eagle River. Earlier this spring, a juvenile suspect was arrested after numerous windows were broken at Fire Lake Elementary and the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center. A

Oistad said APD had no suspect information in the latest incident to release Monday, but Hargraves said numerous officers were at the scene Sunday morning collecting evidence, including fingerprints.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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