Vandals hit Hopewell High
By CAITLIN DAVIS, Senior staff writer
May 5, 2014, 13:30
HOPEWELL — In the early morning hours on Monday, graffiti was discovered at Hopewell High School. The graffiti almost stretches the entire length of the building, from the front entrance to the back, and vehicles were vandalized as well as HVAC units.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said he has not seen vandalism this extensive in Hopewell.
“This is such a senseless crime,” Keohane said. “The damage is extensive. It’s very terrible. We hope to bring folks to justice quickly.”
Hopewell CIty Public Schools spokesman Brian Capaldo said the graffiti was reported by a newspaper carrier around 4:30 Monday morning.
“We are working with the police, Hopewell and Petersburg departments, and starting to clean up,” Capaldo said. “We have already started looking at footage.”
As students sat in the classrooms on Monday, maintenance crews from the high school and from the city were washing the sidewalks and the sides of the building. A large amount of the graffiti contained profanity.
Capaldo, like Keohane, had not seen vandalism of this caliber, though the school system has dealt with vandalism this year.
“There was a small incident at the beginning of the year just before school started, along the cafeteria,” Capaldo said. “It was pretty localized.”
Monday's graffiti had many tags of “PHS 2014” and words like “Turtle” and “Big Flossy.”
“We have an idea who did it,” Keohane said. “We are trying to establish timelines by Twitter and Facebook.”
Keohane said one "tweet" indicated there were individuals at the school around 2 a.m. He confirmed the police were currently looking at footage but the video is not of good quality. In the video the individuals have their faces covered and gloves on their hands.
Though the tags on the high school indicate individuals in Petersburg, Keohane said he does not want people to come to conclusions on the perpetrators.
“You can’t speculate because of what you see,” Keohane said. “We are trying to get to the bottom of this.”
The police are also unsure of the exact number of individuals. He said it could be anywhere between two and eight people. He also said police are going to be investigating past incidents of graffiti in neighborhoods to try and match the handwriting.
Keohane also had a message for students at Hopewell High School.
“Hold those character traits in mind,” Keohane said. “Take the high street and do not act in retaliation to what you saw here today.”
Those responsible for the incident are looking at charges of felony vandalism as the damage is well over $1,000.
Capaldo said the cleanup is going to take many hours and could stretch into the rest of the week.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Workers begin cleaning off graffiti from Hopewell High School.
“Any act like this is unfortunate,” Capaldo said.
Parents were also sent a message regarding the incident.
“Good Morning Parents, Early Monday morning, graffiti was written on the exterior of Hopewell High School. The school is working closely with both the Hopewell and Petersburg police departments. We are cleaning the property as quickly as possible. While work continues outside it is otherwise a normal day with teachers teaching and students learning. Thank you as always for your support,” the statement reads.