School suffers massive damage due to vandals


The $4 million project at Nystrom Elementary School was nearly completed. In fact, workers had just finished painting the interior on Saturday. Now, nearly everything that was new and clean and ready to go is ruined.

From floor to ceiling, one or more vandals did at least $100,000 in damage to the new auditorium that was set to open in just a couple weeks. Police and Board President Charles Ramsey say repairing the damage end up costing a lot more, like in excess of $500,000.

"We're talking an elementary school here; I mean how do we have to ensure that all of our assets are not destroyed," school board President Charles Ramsey said.

The new auditorium now has paint splattered all over the windows, doors and floors -- 20 gallons alone on the main floor of the building. Dozens of windows inside and out were shattered with huge rocks and there is graffiti spread throughout. The alarm system and other electronics were smashed and the carpet and floors soaked when the vandals broke the pipes and let hundreds of gallons of water flood the building.

"I'm just really, really disgusted; we've worked hard to get taxpayers to approve spending money to improve the schools and now the money that we've spent is just thrown away," West Contra Costa School District spokesperson Eduardo Martinez said.

Police think the vandalism occurred Sunday afternoon and given the extent of it they don't believe it was committed by just one person.

"The extensive damage there at the school is horrific; I mean it's just unfathomable that someone would do this to a school that's not even open yet for kids," Richmond Police Lt. Bisa French said. "It's supposed to be a new building for kids, state of the art equipment, state of the art brand new stuff and for them to go in and do this is unthinkable."

Detectives are taking a very close look at possible motives in this case. The vandals did leave some clues behind, including the initials "DJ" in some of the graffiti.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Richmond police, who are offering a $10,000 reward in this case.

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