By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

SMMUSD Students who Vandalized John Muir, SMASH School Identified by Police

The perpetrators posted a video to Instagram, making it easy to identify 5 middle schoolers. They will not be prosecuted criminally.

 

John Muir and SMASH parents were aghast last weekend to receive an e mail from SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati, informing them that their schools had been vandalized.

The initial e mail carried little information about the perpetrators, who were caught on tape. Tape that they themselves created, and posted to Instagram with a rap music background, as they damaged schools they had apparently once attended.

4 of the 5 perpetrators were current SMMUSD students. Santa Monica Police say none will be charged criminally, as they are minors. They range in age from 11 to 14.

School officials believe the damage totals around $100,000 in repair costs. Police Spokesman Lt. Candice Cobarrubias of the SMPD said that a student posted video of the vandalism on Instagram. Police identified the suspects from that video.

"It appears that five juveniles have been identified, four of them are students of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District and one is not. There will be no arrest made of the juveniles," she said. "Their cases will be handled by the School Resource Division of the Santa Monica Police Department in collaboration with the School District."


One local mom wrote: "I saw all the destruction they wrought today. It was planned, systematic, and horrific. This was not a rock thrown through the window. They kicked through doors, smashed computers, turned on all the sinks to flood the library and classrooms, pulled the books off the shelves, coated them with foam from fire extinguishers, poured paint around, pulled down the kid's graduation banners, targeted the library, teacher's lounge, and special needs kids classrooms."

"You can see them shooting the fire extinguisher into the fish bowl, and then dumping him onto the ground. He was the class pet of the special needs kids," she added.

“At Muir, they destroyed both second grade classrooms, and those kids are really having a tough time. Crying, nightmares, and afraid to come back to school because the bad guys will get them. They can't even retrieve their personal stuff. I hope the school board orders the vandals to apologize to them.”

This e mail to parents from SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati:

"Dear Muir and SMASH staff, parents and guardians,

We have very difficult news to report to you today:

Muir and SMASH classrooms, library, cafetorium, stage, teacher's lounge, bookroom, and exterior areas, were vandalized sometime on Saturday night. It does not appear that anything was stolen.

The damage is significant. We are deeply troubled by this criminal act against our beloved schools. We are working today to clean it up as much as possible, but unfortunately, a few rooms and spaces will not be usable for the last week of school.


Heavy damage was done by expelling numerous fire extinguishers indoors on books, walls, flooring in classrooms and the library, breaking windows, destroying furniture, technology and materials, dumping cans of paint on exteriors, and flooding rooms by turning on the sinks.

Muir was clean and set up in advance for fifth grade graduation tomorrow at 9 a.m. with programs set on chairs and banners hung in the cafetorium. Unfortunately banners were pulled down and the room is a mess. The operations team is onsite and working to restore as much as can be for our important ceremony and celebration in the morning, as planned.

Several classrooms will not be restored by tomorrow, or this final week of school. Please speak gently to your children about this incident as they may find they are in an alternative space for the last few days of school. Our teachers and administrators will make this transition as seamless and positive as possible.

We recognize that this may be upsetting to some students. We will have counselors available at school as needed to meet and console with students about this crime to their "home."

Unfortunately, the Muir / SMASH site has been vandalized two other times since February, however, this is the worst incident. We need your help. If you heard or saw anything suspicious happening in the neighborhood Saturday night, we ask that you report it to the Santa Monica Police Department, who is investigating this crime.

As part of Measure SMS, passed in November overwhelmingly by Santa Monica voters, we are enhancing our school security systems, which will include upgraded intrusion alarms, cameras around the perimeters of our schools and electronic locks. For now, we are seeking help from the community in finding these perpetrators. You may also leave anonymous tips on the WeTip line, 800.782.7463 or online, http://www.WeTip.com. If you saw or heard anything, please report it.

We are working to do the best we can to restore the site for the last few days of school, so that our staff and students have a positive experience that is memorable in a good way.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ben Drati, Superintendent

In this video posted to Instagram, a boy kicks in the door to a classroom

 

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