‘No forced entry’ when 30 students vandalized high school, report says
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
A police incident report on the May 12 vandalism at Darlington High School confirms that no one broke into the school – “No forced entry” – but says the 30 or so students involved apparently “entered through several different locations.”
The incident report from the Darlington Police Department, which the News & Press obtained last week after multiple requests beginning May 25, does not resolve the issue of exactly how the students got into the school for what apparently was a “senior prank” gone out of control.
The report states flatly that the students did not break into the school that night. And the Darlington County School District, after rumors claiming an employee let the youths in, said it has determined that no adults were inside the facilities at the time. The incident report states, “It appeared that the school was entered through several different locations.”
None of the approximately 30 students involved in the DHS vandalism will be prosecuted. County Education Superintendent Tim Newman and Darlington Police Chief Kelvin Washington agreed that there was little point in making the youths carry criminal records for the rest of their lives for making some bad decisions on one night.
But DHS seniors known to have been involved in the incident were denied the privilege of walking to the stage on graduation day to pick up their diplomas. A Darlington church held separate ceremonies for graduating seniors who were barred from walking to the stage.
The incident report on the DHS vandalism is fairly brief, but it shows what officers learned at the scene. The report given to the News & Press redacts what appears to be the name, race, gender, age, etc., of a possible suspect in the case.
The report says that at about 10:30 p.m. May 12, two Darlington Police Department officers were on their way to the Springfield/Palmetto Apartments to check out a report of “a bunch of people standing outside.” En route, they spotted “what appeared to be suspicious activity” at Darlington High School at 525 Spring St.
“It was discovered that the school had been vandalized,” the report says. “Units conducted a check of the school’s exterior and interior. It appeared that the school was entered through several different locations. (No forced entry.)” The report does not mention which locations or indicate what led officers to believe this was the case.
The school district has already provided the public a detailed list of the vandalism, and the incident report adds little to that information. The police report refers to the school grounds and interior being “covered with toilet paper, Saran Wrap, yarn, glitter on doorknob(s), chocolate syrup and an unknown sprayed-on substance (no paint). Eggs were thrown and signs made stating ‘Class of 2022, you have been flocked.’” (The principal’s office and main office were broken into and vandalized, and money taken from the main office, the DCSD said.)
Police officers notified school officials, and the school’s band director and assistant principal soon arrived. The school’s SRO was also notified. Police and school officials photographed the vandalism, then an all-night cleanup effort began so that the school could open on time in the morning. The incident report estimates total damage at $500.
In a brief supplemental addition to the incident report, written the following day, an officer states that he had spoken with the school’s SRO, “who advised that this matter would be handled by the school.”
In another supplemental report, dated May 17, an officer reports that he had spoken to Darlington Police Capt. Kim Nelson, who also serves as the school district’s chief security coordinator. She “advised that they were checking the (surveillance) video and that there was a scheduled meeting between herself, parents and other administrators.”
Nelson “advised that the majority of the offenders were identified,” the officer wrote. “I advised her to call me in regards of how this was going to be handled.”