Reno Co. DA: Juvenille suspects in Pretty Prairie vandalism case could avoid criminal charges
The Reno County District Attorney says three kids accused of vandalizing the Pretty Prairie band room could avoid criminal charges.
DA Keith Schroeder confirmed the children to be 8, 10 and 11 years old.
He says SB 367, a bill that became state law a few years ago, prevents anyone under the age of 10 from facing criminal charges in a case like this. He says in these types of cases - they are treated as a 'Child In Need of Care' case.
The Pretty Prairie School District says the four students responsible for damaging the school's music have been identified. The district is not naming them at this time, but Tuesday evening, Eyewitness News learned one of the suspects in this case is an elementary-aged child.
Eyewitness News spoke with that child's mother off camera Tuesday.
The Reno County Sheriff's Office says the damage occurred on Saturday between 1-3 a.m. Several different colors of paint were thrown across the floor, walls and over equipment. Holes were punched in most of the drums, and some even had painted handprints on them.
Other instruments were destroyed with paint or physically damaged. Fire extinguishers were discharged on the building and inside of a recently purchased van that belonged to the school.
Items were thrown around in both in the band room and in the van, items within had been thrown around. The sheriff's office says they couldn't tell, but they believe some items were also taken.
An insurance adjuster was at the school Tuesday morning to assess the damage. The district says once school officials know more, they will decide if donations are needed to replace items and whether community help will be needed to clean up the room.
People who live near the school say it's a sticky situation when a crime like this involves children. The school's band director says there's been an overwhelming amount of support following the crime, as nearly 40 schools have offered band equipment. That outpouring support has included schools in Oklahoma and Kansas City.
"We've received a tremendous amount of support from surrounding communities and even beyond Kansas," the school's band director says.
Alumni from the school and community members have also stepped up with support.
The Pretty Prairie community wants to know why four kids would want to destroy the school's band room.
Police say the vandals broke in during the early morning hours Saturday.
School administrators say many of the instruments were damaged or destroyed. They estimate $50k-$100k in damage.
"Because nine times out of ten, when that happens in your building like it happened here," said Pretty Prairie Superintendent Randy Hendrickson. "We pretty much knew it was some of our students."
Authorities are interviewing possible suspects. They believe four minors are involved in the destruction and plan to press charges.
“It’s hard to fathom that anybody regardless of age would conduct something like that on someone else’s property," said Detective John Culley. "It’s very shocking, not only to law enforcement but to the community that something like this would happen. It’s devastating to locals here."
If you have any information on what happened, you're asked to contact deputies. Deputies also encourage parents to always know their children's whereabouts.
If you would like to help Pretty Prairie by donating instruments, music, or other materials, call the school's office at 620-459-6241.