Corning High School defaced with gang graffiti
Corning police are hoping video surveillance will help them catch those responsible for spraying gang-related graffiti on at least 16 sites on Corning High School buildings sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning.
"This is very disappointing," said Corning Union High School District Superintendent John Burch. "I feel the school is a positive environment to educate our students and provides a positive contribution to our community. It is disappointing when a small percentage of people feel the need to deface our school."
When coaches arrived at the campus Monday morning for basketball practice, they discovered the graffiti covering buildings on much of the northeast end of the school.
School staff immediately called the Police Department.
Officer Dave Pryatel, who serves as the school's safety resource officer, arrived on campus and took pictures of every piece of graffiti he could find.
"There is graffiti on buildings, a propane tank, electrical boxes, doors and more," Pryatel said. "The campus has video cameras and we will be reviewing the footage to try and identify a suspect."
Burch said the video disclosed the time the vandalism occurred and that more than one person committed the crime.
"They were wearing ski masks to hide their identity, so it appears they were aware of video surveillance," Burch stated. "They look older than high school age. Officer Pryatel and our Vice Principal Jared Caylor are working together to identify who they are."
Corning police Chief Don Atkins said the graffiti was some of the worst he has seen to a single location.
"It is definitely gang-related. The city hadn't been hit with much graffiti lately, things had been kind of quiet," the chief stated. "It appears the graffiti was done by the Hispanic Sureno street gang."
The graffiti had many violent messages and disturbing threats, not to the school, but to the rival Norteno street gang, including the numbers 187, which is the California penal code for murder.
Atkins said when the suspects are caught, they could be facing felony charges if it cost the high school more than $400 to clean up the tagging.
According to Burch the cost will be well over $400 to repair the damage.
Since Monday was a holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, no students were on campus and school maintenance was able to cover the vandalism before students returned on Tuesday.
Sally Tollison, Corning High School administrator of support services, said as soon as the graffiti was discovered a plan of action was put in place.
"We will not tolerate such vandalism to our school," she said on Monday morning. "This is just awful."
Burch stated he is hopeful that identifying the suspects and bringing them to justice will stop something like this from happening again and that those who would consider committing vandalism will see it as a deterrent.