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Sun, Oct. 20

Vandals trash PHS gym, locker room

PRESCOTT ­ Just days before the start of fall sports at Prescott High School, vandals struck the campus' main gymnasium and boys' locker room early Thursday morning to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

All fall sports are due to report for first official practices on Monday. But some coaches and athletes on campus Thursday found their gym and locker room trashed instead.

The vandals apparently broke in through at least one gymnasium door. The damage included fire extinguishers sprayed across the entire basketball court, overturned buckets of paint, paint splattered on walls and walls broken through.

The suspects also vandalized parts of the school building.

"It's kind of like, this is your home and they invaded it. And the kids feel the same way," PHS Athletic Director Bill White said Thursday afternoon while surveying the damage. "Some of the football players are a little upset. They were getting their equipment for next week."

Authorities reportedly responded to a fire alarm on campus between 2-3 a.m., Thursday and discovered the damage.

Campus administrators spent much of Thursday assessing damage and working with police. An exact dollar estimate of the damage was unclear, but early estimates were high.

"I just guessed this morning for the report, probably $40,000 or $50,000," said Officer David Fuller of the Prescott Police Department. "I mean it's significant."

Fuller said the investigation continues.

"It's ongoing. We do have some stuff that we're following up on, some investigative leads," he said. "There is some photographic evidence that we're looking into right now. Obviously we would appreciate anybody's help if they have knowledge of the crime."

The gymnasium had undergone recent renovations. The surface of the basketball court ­ one of the vandals' main targets ­ had its entire floor redone one week ago, almost to the day.

With sports teams reporting for practice Monday, there was some good news. None of the damage appeared permanent.

"This will all be cleaned up," White said. "Nothing that can't be fixed Š Just clean up and go, that's all you can do. You can't dwell on it."

All practices and games remain on schedule.

"We'll still be continuing with the athletics program," PHS Principal Totsy McCraley said. "It's just that it's going to take us a little time to get everything put together again."

Contact the reporter at sstockmar@prescottaz.com

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