Mac Center vandalized for third time as Fire Lake spree continues

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 10:57
  • A window was broken sometime overnight May 18-19 at the Harry J. McDonald Center in Eagle River. The window is the third broken at the center this spring. (Photo courtesy Reid McDonald)
  • A window broken May 5, 2018 at the McDonald Center in Eagle River. (Photo courtesy Reid McDonald)
  • A window was broken April 15, 2018 at the McDonald Center in Eagle River. (Photo courtesy Reid McDonald)

In more than two decades running the Harry J. McDonald Center in Eagle River, facility manager Reid McDonald has never had to deal with the kind of mischief he’s put up with this spring.

“In my 21 years there we’ve never really been hit by any type of vandalism,” McDonald said May 14 at the Eagle River/Chugiak Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors meeting.

At that point, two windows had been broken at the center, which is named after McDonald’s late father. He told the parks board the vandalism has caused a heightened sense of alertness at the center, and he’s been personally patrolling the grounds late at night and stopping by in the wee hours of the morning.

“Needless to say, we’ve been a little more alert up there,” he said.

But sometime overnight May 18-19, a window was broken again on the front of the center.

“This makes #3 for us here at the MAC,” the center’s official Facebook page wrote Saturday evening, along with a photo of a broken window at the facility, which includes indoor ice and turf.

According to the Anchorage Police Department, a broken window was reported at around 8 a.m. Saturday morning. The vandalism is at least the seventh such instance at either the McDonald Center or at nearby Fire Lake Elementary. The damage has included at least six broken windows between the two facilities, grafitti at Fire Lake, and some spilled juice and minor damage inside the McDonald Center.

All told, the spree — which began in late March — has amounted to several thousand dollars worth of damage.

Police have identified at least one suspect in the case based on security footage at Fire Lake: a tall, thin male in a hooded sweatshirt.

In his Saturday Facebook post, McDonald said he’s fed up.

“This is not just some stop on your pathetic tour of window break-ins, but rather a place for the entire community to gather, socialize, anse share in athletics, leisure and fun,” read the post, which included a plea for information about the case. “If you have ANY information about the scum that’s behind this vandalism, please message us immediately. Any legit leads will NOT be overlooked.”

On Sunday afternoon, McDonald sat in his office at the center taking stock of the damage. He said the estimated cost to replace all three windows could run as high as $4,000. He said members of the local hockey community are getting sick of the vandalism, which appears to be motivated only by a desire to cause damage.

“It’s like they’re breaking stuff just to break stuff,” he said, noting that whoever snuck into the recreation center earlier this month didn’t steal anything, but did take a clock off the wall and smash it outside.

McDonald said new security cameras were being installed at the facility to try to catch the vandal(s) in the act.

Anyone with information about the vandalism can contact the Anchorage Police Department by calling 311.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.

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