12 students charged in school vandalisms
CRIME SCENE PHOTOS Lauderdale County Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell thumbs through photographs taken at West Lauderdale High School and Southeast Lauderdale High School after they were vandalized Oct. 2. The spree, which also included Meridian High School, caused $15,000 in damages. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 16, 2002
The stiff-lipped parents of 12 Northeast Lauderdale High School students waited in the lobby of the Lauderdale County jail Tuesday to bail their children out.
Each student had been charged with two counts of felony vandalism accused of splashing paint, breaking glass, ruining carpets and destroying computers at three high schools.
The destructive spree occurred on Oct. 2
In a news conference Tuesday, Sheriff Billy Sollie said he believes the group's "mob-like" behavior began at Meridian High School. Investigators say the young men moved next to Southeast Lauderdale High School and finally to West Lauderdale High School were the most damage occurred.
The cumulative damage was about $15,000.
Sollie said hard work, tips and confessions from some of the teen-agers led to the arrests.
The names of four of the 12 charged were withheld because they are minors, Sollie said, and their cases will be handled in Lauderdale County Youth Court. The names of the other eight were released:
Marcus R. Sims, 18
Deltrick L. Portis, 19
Terrell V. Grace, 18
Baracus D. McNeil, 18
DeKenno R. Winston, 18
Kalani Lungeno White, 18
Francisco Chanes, 18
Demario Dover, 18
The case is expected to be presented to a Lauderdale County grand jury in November.
Ed Mosley, assistant superintendent of the Lauderdale County School District, said central office administrators will make a recommendation to the school board and Northeast Lauderdale High School about additional disciplinary measures.
At West Lauderdale High School, where $8,000 worth of damage was caused, Principal Mike Ethridge said, "I hope they are found guilty and have to make restitution. They should be held accountable."
Ethridge said most of the damage at West Lauderdale was repaired within two days thanks to custodians working long and hard but there is still paint splattered on the walls and carpet in his office.
He said students were shocked and upset.
Bail for the teen-agers arrested was set at $20,000. All had bonded out by today. If indicted and convicted, each could face jail time and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Their parents declined to comment.