At 5:08 last Wednesday morning a Boonville woman called 911. She told the dispatcher she lived near the high school and she could hear the sounds of someone breaking windows out at the school.
Anderson Valley's two resident deputies were not called out to investigate, and no one was sent over the hill from Ukiah because the Sheriff's overtime budget is seriously depleted.
The sounds of breaking glass are a low law enforcement priority. These days, it takes glass, guns and screams to get the sirens going.
But this vandalism quickly became high priority when the extent of it was discovered three hours after the sounds of windows being destroyed had reached the neighbor's alarmed ears.
It started with a party in the high school gym, a non-sanctioned party.
It's easy to get into the gym even when it's locked, and a group of young people, estimated at between 20 and 30 persons, at least one of them as young as twelve but many of them chronological adults with serious social deficits, broke in. With them the trespassers brought beer, marijuana and other intoxicants, perhaps including the drug ecstasy or, as it's called, “yuppie speed.” Chairs and tables were arrayed on the gym stage and the party commenced, out of sight and sound of parents and other inconvenient authority figures.
The party goers didn't break anything going in or out of the gym. They didn't steal anything from the gym. They didn't leave The Sign of the Moron, gang graffiti, in or on the gym. They just sat around getting loaded, probably emitting an occasional delighted “Dude!” and then they went home, the last reveler departing around 2am.
Two boys, one 16 the other 15, and both full-time students at the high school, did not leave. They stayed and were soon next door in Robert Pinoli's auto shop classroom breaking the place up, punching out windows and throwing things around.
That was so much fun that an energetic three hours of vandalism ensued as the pair moved from room to room heaving rocks through windows and destroying what they could destroy, including tossing an unknown number of computers to the floor but, fortunately, according to the school's computer consultant, Bob Abeles, not damaging any of them beyond repair.
Although the final figures aren't in yet, preliminary estimates put the total damage at many thousands of dollars.
By noon Wednesday deputy Squires, assisted by deputy Walker, had a pretty good idea of who'd done it.
By nightfall the two boys who had done it were filling in the blanks themselves.
By 6pm it was case closed, and the two boys were locked away in Juvenile Hall, Ukiah, their indignant mothers demanding they spend Thanksgiving behind bars.
“The two of them,” Squires says, “were left over from the party, two little buddies. One of them started breaking windows and the other one thought it was funny and they both just broke everything they could get their hands on for the next three hours.”
Squires couldn't help but see the cuts on one boy's arms when the deputy went to talk to him.
“Once I explained to the one with the cuts that he'd left blood at the scene that I could match up with his blood if I had to, he told me all about it. He said he'd taken some kind of pill that made him crazy. Both these guys had been cited for alcohol at the Fair last summer but they've never been arrested. They went to court Monday. As first-timers, they'll probably get felony probation and their families will get socked big time for restitution.”
The deputy said he couldn't remember a local vandalism on the scale of this one.
“The school's been tagged and broken into by people looking for something to steal. A window has been broken once in a while, but nothing like this,” he said.
The prolonged fury of the attack set it apart. The two boys, both from long-established Valley families, went at it for three hours, left the premises, then came back to clean up the party remnants from the gym but broke out a few more windows before finally calling it a night about 5:30 in the morning.
A discouraged and nonplused J.R. Collins, superintendent of the Anderson Valley schools, said Monday that “It would be a while before we can put a dollar amount on the damage, but they damaged a bunch of computers and broke out 15 or 16 windows, some of them pretty good size windows. Roundtree Glass is on the way over to give us an estimate on replacement costs.”
Collins went on to say that he hoped “the guilty parties and their parents would be held accountable” and characterized the event as “just destructive stupidity.” He said it had taken a volunteer crew of “teachers, administrators and a couple of parents” almost eight hours to clean up glass and restore the classrooms to usable space.
“They set off one of those powder type fire extinguishers in the domes, and that was a big mess with everything covered in that stuff,” Collins said.
The superintendent said he was “very frustrated and aggravated to have the campus all boarded up just when we're having guests,” a reference to the annual Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament that begins Wednesday with teams from all over Northern California competing.
“Hopefully, we can get the windows replaced pretty quickly,” he said.