Vandal damage hits $58,000 at 2 schools

Police and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials want the public's help in catching vandals who caused up to $58,000 in damage at Butler High and Northeast Middle schools.

Vandals smashed windows, damaged computers, overturned desks, sprayed fire extinguishers and wrote obscenities on the walls in 14 mobile classrooms at Butler High School in Matthews sometime between Wednesday night and early Thursday, police said.

At Northeast Middle School in east Mecklenburg County, where a new classroom wing is being built, suspects damaged 54 windows and window frames, and threw construction debris inside the wing, police and school district officials said.

Matthews Police Department officials said Thursday they're examining security camera video footage from Butler, which shows a white minivan leaving the bus parking lot at 4:31 a.m. that morning. A police vehicle was seen patrolling the area about 20 minutes later.

The damage at Butler was discovered about 7:45 a.m. Thursday by a driver's education teacher.

Vandals apparently crawled through windows to gain access into the classrooms, according to Matthews police. Mobile units don't have security alarms as school buildings do because they're transported on and off campus, school district officials said.

Police and school district officials said they have no suspects, but believe more than one person caused the damage.

It's not clear if the same people caused damage to both schools.

“It can be students; but then again, it could be acquaintances of students, former students,” said Matthews Police Capt. Carla Thompson, speaking at a news conference at Butler High. Damage there totaled an estimated $25,000.

“Somebody's parent knows right now,” said Nancy Bartles, area superintendent for CMS's East Learning Community. “With this kind of damage, there's some kind of evidence.”