VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Police are looking for vandals who damaged the inside of a high school in Valley Stream at the height of summer school.
The messages were so offensive that they could be considered a hate crime.
The graffiti inside the school is so offensive that administrators didn’t want CBS 2 to capture it on film. It’s so widespread that it shut down summer school for the day. It’s so serious that police are treating it as a felony.
“It’s right in the center stairwell, I believe, and it covered all three levels of the school,” Detective Sergeant Anthony Repalone, of the Nassau County Police, said. “It was pretty significant.”
Det. Sgt. Repalone said three or more people pushed a dumpster up against the side of Valley Stream High School South, smashed a second-floor window, crawled into the building, and spray-painted the walls.
The thing that has people talking, though, is the nature of the graffiti.
“They spray-painted in the three floors of the stairwell various graffiti markings,” Repalone said. “One of them consisted of a swastika. The remainder of the markings were derogatory comments centered on faculty and staff of the school.”
In addition to marking up the walls, the suspects took several fire extinguishers and sprayed the halls with them, too. Repalone said the evidence suggests teenagers — possibly current or former students — are responsible.
Detectives are talking to parents, teachers and students to find the vandals. As for the swastika, Repalone said prosecutors have not yet decided whether to classify this as a hate or bias crime.
“If there is indication that there were racial overtones, then that could escalate into potential charges as well,” Repalone said.
As it stands, the suspects already face serious charges. Any crime committed by someone who’s illegally trespassing in Nassau County is automatically considered a felony burglary.
Investigators are hoping surveillance video taken the night of the crime, and fingerprints that may have been left behind, will help crack the case. In the meantime, they’re asking anyone with information to call the Nassau County Police Department.
Police estimate that the vandals did about $20,000 worth of damage.
Summer school at Valley Stream South is expected to resume Monday.
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