January 18, 2022

Calais police have suspect> Few details released in school vandalism

CALAIS — Police said Monday they have a suspect in the break-in at Calais High School earlier this month, but they were releasing few details.

Police Chief Michael Milburn said the parents of the suspect are not cooperating with the investigation and have hired an attorney.

The chief declined to comment further on the investigation or what evidence had been gathered.

The absence of a burglar alarm system is believed to be a key reason the vandals had almost an entire Saturday night to trash the city’s high school. So the school department is looking into acquiring a security system.

“We have gotten some quotes but that is a matter to be addressed by the school committee,” Superintendent May Bouchard said Monday.

The damage was discovered July 2 when a staff member returned to the school and found that it had been broken into and that several classrooms had been trashed.

Shards of glass from the athletic trophy case were strewn across the floor. Three of the gold balls that symbolize state championships won by the school’s girls basketball team were missing. The vandals damaged television sets and computers and destroyed copy machines. Furniture was overturned.

Bouchard said the city’s insurance adjuster estimated the damage at $50,000 if items such as computers and copy machines can be repaired. “However, if we have to replace those items it will be more,” she said.

The propane gas line in the science lab was breached, and gas fumes filled that end of the building. Sink drains were plugged with paper and the water was turned on. Water spilled onto classroom and hallway floors. Fire officials who vented the building reported that there was so much propane in the science lab that a lit match could have caused the room to explode. It took about two hours to vent the building.

Immediately after the incident, police speculated that more than one person was involved.

Around the time the break-in was discovered, police learned that a late-model Ford Mustang with license plates removed had been abandoned on the Hardscrabble Road. The car belonged to auto shop teacher Don Barnes and had apparently been taken from the automotive shop at the school.

Milburn said Monday that the incident remains under investigation.

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