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Vandals hit South

November 08, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

South Hagerstown High School students, teachers, staff and some parents arrived at school this morning to find it vandalized with spray paint, the Hagerstown Police Department said.

The messages in some places changed the school's name to North High. One of the messages was a racial ephithet.

Most of the spray paint was red with some in black, Sgt. Curt Wood said.

Red and black are the colors of North Hagerstown High School, whose Hubs football team defeated the South High Rebels 39-0 in Friday night's Hagerstown Gridiron Championship Classic at School Stadium, which is on South's campus.

Wood said the spray paint did not specifically mention the game.

"The North High and South High principals are cooperating to address the vandalism. We're not assuming that any students from North High necessarily were involved," Washington County Board of Education Public Information Officer Carol Mowen said.

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The schools plan to offer a reward of up to $1,000 for any information leading to an arrest, Mowen said.

"We are conducting a thorough investigation, reviewing videotapes," Mowen said. The School Board has security cameras at its properties, including South High, she said.

As of 9:30 a.m., Mowen did not have an estimate for the damage the vandalism caused or information about the cleanup effort.

Besides changing the school's name, a racial epithet was spray painted on what appears to be a trailer or storage shed, Wood said.

The police department's school resource officers, one at South and one at North, also are investigating the vandalism, Sgt. George Knight said.

A sport utility vehicle was seen in the area on Sunday night, Wood said.

At 9:13 p.m., police received a report from someone who had seen a dark-colored, possibly black, sport utility vehicle in South's parking lot with several unknown occupants, Wood said.

The caller saw someone get out of the SUV and retrieve what might have been a spray paint can, Wood said.

Around 10:15 p.m., a uniformed police officer saw a black SUV in the parking lot with its headlights off and the map light on, Wood said.

It was not known whether the officer was responding to the area to check out the civilian's report, Wood said.

The officer was not working this morning's shift so he was not available for comment.

Anyone with information about the SUV or the vandalism should call the Hagerstown Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division at 301-790-3700, extension 234, Wood said.

Tips also may be called in to Hagerstown Police Officer Steve Cromer, who is stationed at South High, at 301-766-8376, Mowen said.

Wood said most of the vandalism was done from the school's roof and some graffiti was sprayed on the skylights.

"North" was written in red paint on the school's new green windows, he said.

"NHHS" was written on a wall, Wood said.

An event sign by the street had a derogatory phrase about South in red paint on one side and "North Hagerstown High School" on the other side, Wood said.

The stone sign by the street that has the school's name on it had South crossed out with "North" beside it, Wood said.

Other graffiti messages included "North rules" and "North Hagerstown for Life," Wood said.

Mowen said she was not aware of any other public schools receiving vandalism during the weekend.

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