By Will Johnson
ELKHART – As the Memorial Day weekend came to a close, students, faculty and staff at Elkhart High School were greeted by an unwelcome sight on Tuesday morning. As they arrived for their last week of class, they were met with a scene of vandalism as it became apparent a person or persons had defaced the Elk statue in front of the school, as well as an automobile parked in the parking lot.
The statue and a vehicle left in the parking lot had been vandalized with what appeared to be an orange spray paint some time during the night of May 30 or early morning hours of May 31. Several profane words and other graphic images were scrawled along the base of the elk and from the hood to the trunk of the vehicle.
According to Elkhart ISD Superintendent Dr. Ray DeSpain, “We are investigating right now. If we find out who did this, it will be vandalism of property owned by a governmental agency. That takes it to a whole different level.”
“We are also currently looking at the video to see who might have done this,” Dr. DeSpain said early Tuesday morning. “They also vandalized a vehicle which had been left in the parking lot. That was how we found out. The way they did it, it was on the south side of the Elk. We just happened to notice it.”
The superintendent said the graffiti had already been removed from the elk statue thanks to the work of the district’s maintenance department. He stressed the amount of damage to the statue, when combined with the cost of damages to the vehicle, may move the crime into the range of a felony offense. “With the damage done to the vehicle, the amounts totaled together would more than likely make this a felony,” he said.
“We have an idea who it may be,” DeSpain added, “but we are looking at all possibilities. Hopefully, we can find out who it was in a very short amount of time.”
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is heading up the investigation but was unavailable for comment as of press time.
If the amount of damage is greater than $1,500 the crime would be considered a state jail felony which could result in confinement in a state jail facility for up to two years and a fine of not more than $10,000.
If the damage totals more than $20,000, the crime will be considered a felony of the third degree which carries a punishment of between two and ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.