Crime

Someone trashed a Merced elementary school teacher’s classroom. Suspects sought

One or more vandals broke into and ransacked classrooms at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Merced. GoFundMe page screenshot

One or more vandals broke into and ransacked classrooms at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Merced, destroying items and projects — an act police and school officials are calling horrible and disheartening.

A custodian called Merced police reporting the vandalism at about 7:32 a.m. Thursday. Officers found several pieces of property damaged, Capt. Bimley West said.

“The school is there to educate the young people. And for these people for no good purpose go over there to destroy something good for the community is horrible,” West said.

The culprits are believed to have gained entry to the classrooms through windows above the doors, West said. Six of the windows had been smashed by the suspects.

Burbank room after clean up.JPG
This Burbank Elementary School classroom in Merced was cleaned up Thursday, July 12, 2019, after one or more vandals ransacked it. Courtesy Merced City School District

Two rooms were ransacked, West said, causing damage to a roof light that was knocked over. More damage was noticed by staff later Thursday night.

One of the teachers at the school publicly posted about the incident on Facebook .

“The culprits broke multiple windows and tossed items from storage containers and shelves all around the room,” Merced City School District spokesperson Sara Sandrik said in an email response, adding that glue was spread across the classroom carpet. “Fortunately, they did not steal or break any equipment.”

The school’s alarms had a wiring issue that prevented them from going off when the vandalism occurred, Sandrik said, adding that the alarm company told school officials there was no way they could have known about it, and that it was quickly fixed.

The school’s alarms went off early Friday morning, at 12:46 a.m., West said. But when officers arrived, they found the school’s classrooms locked and secure.

“There was a vehicle parked nearby,” West said. The car’s owner is believed to live in the area of the school.

Merced detectives were looking into the vehicle along with video surveillance captured by the school, West said. The act was classified as felony vandalism.

“It is disheartening to have this happen because we know that our teachers go above and beyond to make their rooms engaging and inspiring places for our students to learn,” Sandrik said. “We will make sure the teacher has everything she needs for her students before the school year starts on August 14.”

A GoFundMe also has been set up to help the affected teacher.

Anyone with information on the vandalism at Burbank Elementary is being urged to contact Merced Police Sgt. Rey Alvarez at 209-388-7705. Anyone witnessing any type of burglary, vandalism or malicious mischief should dial 9-1-1.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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