Glendale police seek perpetrators of small fire inside elementary school

Police are looking for whoever set a small fire this week inside Thomas Jefferson Elementary School that caused smoke damage to a wall and “could have been gotten out of hand.”

A school custodian discovered the damage about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday near the campus bulletin board, where a paper sign appeared to be set on fire, according to Glendale police reports.

He also found a scorch mark on a women’s bathroom sign, a few cigarette butts placed under the bathroom door and more on the school’s main hallway floor.

Police believe the fire may have been started by kids or teenagers, but “there was no real evidence to show that they were trying to start a large fire, nevertheless, it’s serious and could have been gotten out of hand,” police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Detectives will try to find witnesses, who may have seen something that night, and review any surveillance video footage, he said. Forensics investigators examined evidence for DNA and fingerprints.

School administrators have logged several incidents of trespassing, loitering, thefts, vandalism and arson in the past few months, police said.

Last year, administrators worked with police to arrest the perpetrators of similar offenses, school Principal Greg Mooshagian said. Eventually, he said, the offenders had to pay restitution for damage.

Mooshagian said he is working with Glendale Unified School District officials to add security cameras and lighting to certain areas on campus to deal with the latest public safety issues.

“We are hopeful that there won’t be a problem,” he said.

Anyone with details about the fire was encouraged to call police property crime investigators at (818) 548-2097. To remain anonymous, call Glendale Crime Stoppers at (818) 507-7867.

-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News

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