Law enforcement officials say surveillance cameras captured photos of what they believe was the getaway car carrying the person or people responsible for a Thursday morning fire that destroyed $25,000 worth of football and softball equipment at Providence High School.
During an afternoon news conference, Charlotte Fire Department Deputy Chief Rob Kinniburgh said the school's surveillance cameras showed what appeared to be a blue sedan leaving the parking lot about 2:45 a.m. Thursday.
It was about five hours later before Providence High officials discovered that someone had torched three storage buildings in a wooded area at the rear of the school's property, off Pineville-Matthews Road in southeast Charlotte.
“It made me physically sick when I saw it,” said Providence High Principal Terri Cockerham.
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Two of the sheds contained outdoor practice equipment for the Providence High football team, which begins practice today. CMS officials said about $20,000 worth of equipment, including blocking machines, were in those buildings.
The third building contained about $5,000 worth of equipment owned by the Matthews Softball Association.
A fourth building nearby escaped the fire.
“We will need taxpayer dollars to replace this,” said Robert Avossa, CMS area superintendent for the South Learning Community, which includes Providence. “This type of senseless act impacts us all.”
Only a pile of blackened rubble and a few pieces of recognizable equipment – machines that mark lines on athletic fields – remain where the buildings once stood.
Cockerham said the football team's pads, helmets and other equipment were not stored there.
She said several public and private schools in the area – including Independence, Ardrey Kell and Mallard Creek high schools – have offered or provided replacement equipment.
Kinniburgh would not say what type of material was used to set the fire or what might have been the motive.
“We don't want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation,” he said.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers, 704-334-1600.