Vandals broke into an Allapattah elementary school, destroying computers, breaking windows and discharging fire extinguishers in what administrators are calling one of the worst acts of vandalism in the school district’s recent history.
Vandals broke into Comstock Elementary School, 2420 NW 18th Ave., on Tuesday morning by climbing onto the second story of a school building and throwing large rocks through the windows, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. Once inside, the vandals broke computers, yanked interactive whiteboards off the walls, toppled over furniture and discharged fire extinguishers in more than 20 classrooms, causing more than $30,000 in damage.
“It seems like they really picked the most valuable elements in the building and destroyed them,” said Carvalho, who toured the school on Tuesday afternoon with Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett and the school principal to assess the damage. “This is one of the most significant acts of vandalism that we’ve seen.”
Because the vandals entered through the windows, they did not trip the school’s alarm system until they left the building through a door around 2:30 a.m. Police arrived on the scene within minutes of the alarm going off, Carvalho said.
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No property was stolen from the school, but the vandals did leave some of their property behind, including a backpack that could help lead investigators to the culprits, Carvalho said. Investigators believe the vandalism was gang-related because of the graffiti left on the walls.
Carvalho said the school district is “putting a lot of resources” into finding the vandals and will clean up the mess before students return from winter break on Jan. 9.
“Comstock Elementary is a school that serves one of the most impoverished communities in Miami-Dade County and for the school to be targeted in that way, not for theft but just for sheer destruction, is deeply disturbing,” Carvalho said.
The school district plans to spend up to $10 million over the next five years to install security monitoring systems at all of the county’s public schools. The district is encouraging anyone with information about the vandalism at Comstock Elementary to contact the Schools Police at 305-995-COPS.