Jensen Beach Elementary: Four teens arrested for vandalizing mascot
15-foot statue torn down
6:44 PM, Jul 17, 2013
6:52 PM, Jul 17, 2013
JENSEN BEACH, Fla. -
It had survived hurricanes, but it couldn't survive an attack by vandals, vandals who used to walk past this school mascot every day.
He began life as a 15-foot tall mascot for a carpet company in New York, but when Jensen Beach Elementary opened in 1970 and nicknamed itself the Vikings, Jenguard was brought down to serve as a sentry in front of the school.
But now a horn is broken off, an arm is out of its socket and Jenguard looks like he's down for a long nap.
Principal Don Merritt said he got a call around midnight that the school had been broken into.
A bathroom window was smashed. Once inside, the vandals unleashed a number of fire extinguishers in the hallways.
That bit of damage helped detectives with their case.
When they came upon four juveniles outside the school, pictures were taken of the one juvenile wearing shoes. That footprint matched the footprint found in the hallway residue left behind by the fire extinguishers.
But the main damage was done to Jenguard.
"I'm just imagining our boys and girls returning to school in the fall not seeing their Viking greeting them as they come in the driveway," said Merritt.
Jenguard had just gotten a fresh coat of paint and was going to be rededicated this year.
"It took a lot of time, a lot of dedication. We had two girls up high on scaffolding. They were the brave ones.," said PTA President Jill Richardson.
As word came in during the afternoon, that four juveniles had been arrested, there was relief among the staff.
"We're glad it's over. Now we just begin rebuilding and repairing," said Don Merritt.
The four teens arrested all face charges of burglary and criminal mischief.
They range in age from 12 to 15 and three of the four boys had attended Jensen Beach Elementary in the past.