Sedalia Police Department officers, Sedalia School District 200 officials, the Pettis County Juvenile Office and the district’s School Resource Officer are continuing an investigation into vandalism that occurred at Smith-Cotton Junior High School on Halloween night.
Black and gold spray paint was found on the building and eggs were thrown at its doors, windows and walls. In addition, a vehicle belonging to a school district employee was also spray painted. School Resource Officer John Cline estimated the damage to be approximately $3,000.
“I’ve been the SRO for seven years and this is the first time in recent memory we’ve had an incident like this,” Cline said. “In the past we’ve had minor issues like eggs or toilet paper, but nothing of this magnitude.”
After reviewing tapes from surveillance cameras at the school, school administrators were able to identify some of the suspects “from their body language and walk,” Cline said.
“Everyone was in their Halloween costumes, but they were able to pick out one or two students,” he said. “We brought them in for questioning and it grew from there. Pretty immediately, those that were brought in admitted their involvement in the crime.”
Fifteen individuals — two 17-year-olds and 13 juveniles — are suspects in the case. Charges against the two older suspects may be brought in a day or two, according to the SPD. Cline said he expected charges of property damage to be brought against the older suspects but charges have not yet been filed against the juveniles.
“Because they are under 17, those cases have been referred to the Pettis County Juvenile Office,” Cline said. “It’s up to them to decide charges or what punishments, such as informal probation or restitution, might be. (The Sedalia Police Department and the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office) don’t have a say in that.”