UPDATE: Arrests made in vandalism of Amphi schools
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Three minors have been arrested after several schools in the Amphitheater district were vandalized and burglarized over the weekend.
The Tucson Police Department said a 12-year-old, 13-year-old ad 15-year-old were arrested on charges of third-degree burglary, aggravated criminal damage and arson.
The suspects will not be identified due to their age, the TPD said in a news release Thursday, Nov. 2.
The TPD said 12- and 13-year-olds are former students at Amphi Middle while the 15-year-old is a student of Amphi High.
The estimated cost of the damages is at least $200,000, according to the TPD.
According to the district, Amphi Middle and Prince Elementary were hit late Saturday, Oct. 28, and the Rillito Center and Amphi High were vandalized early Sunday, Oct. 29.
The shared library and computer lab for Amphi Middle and Prince Elementary were the hardest hit.
"The vandals caused significant damage to the library by setting a fire, destroying computers and other equipment and smashing in nearly 40 windows around the campuses," Amphitheater Public Schools said in a news release.
"It's a significant challenge," said Dr. Abel Morado, Principal of Amphitheater Middle School. "Our kids are upset and they are heartbroken that somebody could do this to our school."
There are about 1,500 students between the two schools who share the library and many are confused and upset.
"Yeah, and a lot of them were, 'why did somebody do this to our school?' That's a difficult one for me to answer," said Morado, who in his first year as principal has seen minor vandalism and graffiti on the school grounds here and there, but nothing of this magnitude.
The library sustained considerable smoke damage and several computer monitors and other materials were destroyed in the lab. The library will be closed for at least eight weeks but the schools are planning to have other accommodations in place.
"They get it. Our students are right on the mark. They know exactly that this isn't the way this school functions," said Morado on the students reaction to the vandalism. "This is a safe school. It's got great teachers, great families, and it's been in this community for decades. So they feel it and they feel the violation."
No classes have been canceled due to the vandalism.
"There's the physical part of that damage and then there's the emotional. The idea of seeing your library. The fact that here's where our children learn and come to check out books, and learn more about what they need to set themselves up for the future. Then, to know that somebody came and violated that space, there's that emotional aspect. That's more difficult to replace," Morado said.
Statement from Superintendent Todd Jaeger, Amphitheater Public Schools, regarding vandalism arrests:
"We are grateful that the Tucson Police Department acted so quickly to investigate and make these arrests related to the vandalism of our schools. We are saddened to learn that several of the individuals allegedly involved were current or former students of ours.
The damage done this past weekend was not just to our buildings. It hurts all of us when these things happen. Everyone who cares about our students, our schools, and our community feels a sense of pain when someone deliberately tries to tear down what we strive every day to build.
We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community received over the past few days and we have partnered with the charitable Amphi Foundation to establish a dedicated donation page on amphifoundation.org."
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