Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Students suspected after windows broken in courtyard
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
Boarded-up windows and glass shards on the sidewalks greeted students Monday at Cochiti Elementary School.
Vandals broke 30 windows within the courtyard of the school over the weekend, using rocks to damage glass panels in doors, the gym lobby and the area around the cafeteria and teacher's lounge, according to Albuquerque Public Schools police.
APS Police Chief Bill Reed said there were several rocks with writing on them that "leads us to believe it's a student issue."
School principal Bernice Herrera said teachers were worried because they had heard that one of their names was scrawled on one of the rocks. Reed said he could not confirm that.
Damage is estimated at $8,000 to $10,000.
APS police were called to the school about 4 p.m. Saturday regarding a "suspicious situation," according to reports.
The broken windows were in a courtyard area on the east side of the school, hidden from the entrance.
The staff is usually gone from the school by 4:30 on Fridays, and there were no events scheduled for the weekend, Herrera said.
Tucked away in a North Valley neighborhood northwest of 12th and Menaul NW, Cochiti has an enrollment of 280 students, with about 20 teachers.
"More than anything, the kids are upset," Herrera said. "We're fortunate that they did not (enter the school)."
APS crews were busy replacing many of the windows in the main building Monday morning, although 12 windows surrounding the gym's entryway were still covered with duct tape or boards.
Letters sent home Monday asked parents to find out whether their children have any information about the vandalism.
"You would be surprised to find how much children know about what happens in the neighborhood and how many times they can give us important information," the letter said.
Tips sought on school vandalism
Anyone with information about the Cochiti Elementary vandalism is urged to contact campus Crime Stoppers at 843-STOP, or by texting the information to 274637 (CRIMES).
When texting, type in "Tip 531" followed by the information you're providing.
Tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous and can lead to rewards, including gift cards to area merchants.