Crime & Courts

Vandals who destroyed Kansas high school band room were 8, 10 and 11 years old, DA says

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)

Three youths suspected of leaving behind painted hand prints on broken drum heads while destroying a school music room are 8, 10 and 11 years old, authorities say.

Deputies were called at around 9 a.m. Saturday to Pretty Prairie High School after Principal Kevin Hedrick found that the band room had been vandalized. The principal had been giving a tour of the school to upcoming freshmen when he discovered the vandalism.

Initial reports from the sheriff’s office indicate the suspects are 8, 10 and 11, Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder said.

Any case against the children would be sealed because of their age, he said, adding he could not publicly disclose a charging decision. A child under 10 cannot be charged as a juvenile offender and instead would be involved in a child in need of care case.

A child in need of care case can sometimes result in a child being removed from the home.

To potentially recover damages in the case, school officials would have to go through civil suit, Schroeder said. But he said he could not speculate whether or not the parents could be held liable.

Officials have estimated the vandals caused between $50,000 and $75,000 in damage.

“The entire band room received severe damage,” said Reno County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Lutz. “Several different colors of paint was thrown across the floor, walls and over equipment. The majority of the drums, if not all, had holes punched in them. Some of the drums heads had painted hand prints left on them. Several different musical instruments were completely destroyed.

“Fire extinguishers were discharged on the building and inside of a recently purchased van that belonged to the school. Both in the band room and in the van, items within had been thrown around. Although it is going to take a bit to see what if anything has been stolen, we believe items have been taken.”

The district attorney’s office has not been presented information on a fourth child. The Reno County Sheriff’s Office has previously said four juveniles were connected to the weekend vandalism at Pretty Prairie High School.

Pretty Prairie school officials have not responded to requests for comment from The Eagle, including about whether the children are students of USD 311.

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