Englewood High closed by vandalism

Thousands of dollars in damage caused by vandals,fires

By Tom Munds
Posted 1/11/14

Extensive damage caused by vandalism in the wee hours of Sunday morning at Englewood High School has resulted in the school being closed Jan. 13.

The bulk of the damage occurred in the newly …

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Englewood High closed by vandalism

Thousands of dollars in damage caused by vandals,fires

Posted

Englewood police continue the investigation and search for at least three young men who broke into Englewood High School and went on a vandalism spree, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

Helen Porterfield, a recent EHS graduate stopped by the school Jan. 13.

"This is just awful. I can't imagine why someone would do all this senseless destruction," she said. "I toured the new facility and it was wonderful. I wish the school was like that when I went here."

There wasn't much to see on the outside of the building but crews from Servpro, a company specializing in fire and water restoration, were preparing to enter the school to continue the cleanup.

The damage was confined to the computer lab and the band room. According to the police, the break-in happened about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 12.

"Our teacher and students had just moved into the area hit over Thanksgiving and then we have criminals break into our building and do extensive damage to our STEM lab and our band, orchestra and choir rooms and the auditorium," said Brian Ewert, Englewood Schools superintendent. "The damage to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) lab is estimated at $30,000. I was just sick when I saw all those computers and equipment smashed and when I went into the performance area and saw all those plaques and banners had been set on fire. It really hurt me."

Ewert said the district is documenting all expenses, including the cost of hiring a restoration firm to do the cleanup. He said the damage could reach $500,000. But the district does have an insurance policy that requires the district to pay a $5,000 deductible.

Englewood police are investigating the vandalism.

"The security tapes show that at least three young men smashed windows in the computer lab and then smashed a number of computers," said Kevin Sage, Englewood Police public information officer. "They then apparently moved into the band room where it appears they tried to set several small fires."

He said at 1:41 a.m. the fires triggered the high school's water pressure alarm, a device that notifies the fire department water was running in the building.

Information from the fire department stated firefighters went to the high school when the alarm sounded. The press release stated the firefighters entered the building, found broken glass and notified Englewood police.

Police officers went into check the building with firefighters close behind them. They found areas had been vandalized and small fires set that triggered the sprinkler system.

The police department press release stated, when the break-in was confirmed, Englewood officers set a perimeter around the building and asked for K-9 assistance. Officers from Cherry Hills and Sheridan police departments and from Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office arrived to help with the investigation. No suspects were found during the search of the building and surrounding area.

The south side of the high school building is being demolished and investigators reported the vandals apparently entered the demolition area and did damage inside the old building. They then broke through a boarded up entrance to get into the newly constructed wing that is where the high school classes are held.

Inside the new wing, the vandals smashed the window to the computer lab and smashed several computers. They then went into the band room, orchestra room and choir room where they set several small fires.

The fires set off the sprinkler system, which triggered the initial alarm. The sprinklers doused the fires but the flow continued and estimates are there were about four inches of standing water in the band room, choir room and orchestra room.

Superintendent Ewert said the water may have damages some musical instruments but didn't know if the instruments belonged to the school or to students.

He said the water from the sprinklers went under the walls and into the high school auditorium.

"We have damage to the carpet and low on the walls but fortunately, the sprinklers in the auditorium didn't go off," Ewert said.

Sage said a team of detectives spend house on Jan. 13 reviewing security tapes in an effort to identify the individuals involved in the break in.

"We also have fire department arson investigators working with detectives as they investigate the fires in the high school," Sage said. "The smashed computers, the attempts to start fires and the water from the sprinklers combined to do thousands of dollars in damage."

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