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Windows Smashed, Locks Broken : Estancia High Vandalism Ends in 8 Students’ Arrest

Times Staff Writer

Eight students were arrested Monday after vandals smashed windows and broke locks at Estancia High School, causing $2,500 damage, Costa Mesa police said.

Officer Paul Ellis said about 90 students, a few armed with short wooden clubs, screwdrivers and bolt cutters, ran in all directions when he and other officers arrived at 2:09 a.m. The police were alerted by a silent alarm when the vandals broke the window of the school’s computer room.

Several Parties in Area

Police said there had been several parties in the area, and the vandalism appeared to be a seniors’ prank that got out of hand.

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Eight juveniles were arrested on suspicion of malicious mischief; all were released to the custody of their parents.

Principal Robert Francy said, “It seems to have been a spontaneous act on the part of a couple of kids,” Francy said. “If the ones we identify as having done the malicious damage are adults, we will file charges against them, or at least, restitution will be in order,” he said.

Francy said he had not yet decided whether the eight students, all seniors, would be allowed to graduate.

Ellis said he saw about a dozen youths riding a Cushman maintenance cart (similar to a golf cart) down Placentia Avenue near Joann Street as he approached the school. “As soon as they saw I had my lights on, they ran like rats down Joann,” he said. “Then they jumped off the Cushman, which proceeded unmanned down Placentia Avenue. It almost ran into my unit, then ran up the curb and came to a stop.”

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At the school, police found that about seven windows had been broken and 10 padlocks had been cut. Tables and chairs from the area known as the senior quad were heaped in a pile, police said.

Student Carried Billy Club

Ellis said one student who was carrying a billy club and was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and possession of a deadly weapon. Another was found hiding under a car, police said.

The incident was the first senior prank to involve vandalism since Francy became principal in 1978, he said.

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“It is extremely unusual for our students to cause property damage. We’re no different from any other high school in the country or the nation. You always have a senior prank you have to deal with . . . unfortunately.”


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