The identification and recovery of a hooded sweatshirt has led to the arrest of four teen boys in connection with a break-in and vandalism at Alexandria High School, according to the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Patrick Andrews, 18, of Alexandria and three other teens were charged with third-degree burglary Thursday for allegedly breaking into the school sometime over the Independence Day holiday and causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, said Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson. The identities of the other suspects were not released because they are being charged as juveniles.
Video surveillance at the school captured images of the four suspects, who all were wearing hooded sweatshirts and latex gloves during the crime, Amerson said.
“One of the vandals had on a hoodie that had a very unique design to it,” said Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Matthew Wade. “He also had the same hoodie on in his yearbook picture and that’s what broke the case.”
Wade said school officials were able to identify the suspects through the surveillance footage, and sheriff’s deputies brought in two of the suspects for questioning. While searching one of the suspect’s homes, four hooded sweatshirts matching the four worn by the vandals in the video were found.
One of the suspects also has been charged with a burglary of the school in February, after stolen computer equipment was uncovered during Thursday’s search, Wade said.
Amerson said the suspects, all current or former Alexandria High students, broke into the building through a window on the roof.
“From the school’s perspective, you have limits on how many places you can have alarms protecting the area,” Amerson said. “You want to protect offices and places where more valuable items are stored.”
Investigators are working on an estimate of the total damage caused during the break-in, but Amerson said it’ll end up costing the schools thousands of dollars.
“Just senseless, random things that profited nobody,” Amerson said describing the damage which included broken windows, computer equipment, skylights, trophies and toilets.
Calhoun County Schools Superintendent Joe Dyar said the school will have to wait to see if the current students are convicted of burglaries before assessing their future enrollment, but did not rule out possible expulsion.
“Vandalism serves absolutely no purpose in our community,” Dyar said. “We want these youngsters, whoever did it, to learn a lesson, but we also want to be fair.”
Andrews was being held Friday morning in the Calhoun County Jail, while the three juveniles were at Coosa Valley Youth Detention Center.