PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Two Port St. Lucie brothers, ages 13 and 17, face a number of criminal charges, accused of vandalizing the YMCA of the Treasure Coast building off Bayshore Boulevard. Now the YMCA is doing its best to keep moving forward after being forced out of its home.
It is the Sons of Italy building in Port St. Lucie, but on a Tuesday afternoon, it's serving the sons and *daughters* of parents who depend on the YMCA of the Treasure Coast for a safe afterschool program.
Last Monday, the YMCA staff went to its building only to discover that vandals had torn it apart. Holes were punched in walls, light fixtures damaged, and toilets were smashed with hammers.
"We had to regroup really quickly and find a place for our kids to go," said YMCA Executive Director Audra Mariz.
This crime came just two weeks after one of the Y's buses was set on fire.
Tuesday, Port St. Lucie police announced the arrest of the two brothers for both incidents.
"It's like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We go into that site each day hoping there isn't more vandalism to the outside of the building and things like that," said Mariz.
The teens face felony burglary charges, and were also charged with a number of business vehicle burglaries in the area.
"They offered no rhyme or reason they just confessed to what they did," said Port St. Lucie police department spokesman Tom Nichols.
What frustrates Audra Mariz is that the teen suspects live right around the corner from the "Y" and maybe could have benefitted from its services.
"The Y is all about having a place for the kids to go and have ownership of a facility that's there own where they can hang their artwork and get their homeowrk done and have friends and hang out. Unfortunately, these kids took that away," she added.
Mariz is thankful the Sons of Italy stepped forward so quickly and the Y will get the word out when they need to refill their building since the suspects broke almost everything they had. If repair work goes as planned, the YMCA hopes to move back into its facility by the end of Thanksgiving break.
Copyright (c) 2008 E.W. Scripps Company
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