Facing felony charges: 5 juveniles identified as suspects in vandalism

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Five Berryville juveniles are facing felony charges after a vandalism spree that included several local businesses, the Berryville Community Center and a school.

According to Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos, the five “juvenile delinquents” were identified as part of the group of six caught on video spray-painting vulgar messages on the sign and the doors at Berryville Intermediate School on Dec. 12.

“We’ve identified five juveniles and we forwarded our paperwork to juvenile probation and the prosecutor’s office for charging them with felony criminal mischief for their spray painting and also for shoplifting,” Bartos said.

A police investigation revealed that, in addition to the property damage from the vandalism, the juveniles had also stolen the paint used from Walmart.

“They went down behind Cato’s and then over to the school and then made their way down to the community center,” Bartos said. “They had a little bit of a crime spree.”

One of the juveniles is also being charged in relation to a similar act of vandalism on Dec. 9.

Bartos said last week that police didn’t initially believe the two acts were committed by the same individuals, but said Monday that one of those facing charges in the school vandalism case is also believed to be involved in the vandalism reported at an old church near the intersection of College and Douglas Street.

“One of the juveniles is being charged in that case,” Bartos said, “but not all of them. Five of them were involved in spray painting back behind Cato’s, spray painting the intermediate school and then over at the community center around the skate park area.”

Bartos said the felony charges were warranted because of the amount of damage caused by the vandals.

“If it costs more than a thousand dollars worth of damage in man hours and supplies to fix whatever’s torn up — if that is $1,000 or more — then it becomes a felony,” Bartos said.

Bartos said the investigation was aided by security video obtained from the Berryville School District that caught the vandals in the act. School superintendent Owen Powell said the five juveniles who were identified were all students at Berryville Middle School.

“We are following our student handbook and pressing charges and everything we can,” Powell said Wednesday, adding that the five also will face consequences from the school district. “They’ll be disciplined according to our disciplinary policies and that will involve out-of-school suspensions.”

Last week, Powell described the incident as frustrating.

“It’s very aggravating, very frustrating,” Powell said. “We work extremely hard to maintain our facilities and keep everything looking good. For somebody to do a disrespectful act like that, it’s very frustrating.”

Staff discovered the damage early on the morning of Dec. 13 and began working immediately to attempt to remove the paint before school started.

“I don’t know if we did get all of it [before students began arriving],” Powell said last week. “We found it early this morning and we had our maintenance staff over there trying and working to get it cleaned up.”

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: