Community of Saints Regional Catholic School gym vandalized, back in use

| October 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

The gym at Community of Saints Region Catholic School in West St. Paul sustained damage from vandalism during the MEA weekend, Oct. 18-21. West St.Paul police officers have been investigating the incident since Oct. 21. School maintenance staff cleans the gym, and it returned to use Oct. 24. Courtesy West St. Paul Police

A maintenance worker at Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul discovered a shocking sight Oct. 21 when cleaning at the end of the MEA weekend.

He found the gym vandalized and the kitchen ransacked during the annual four-day weekend for Minnesota schools. The West St. Paul police department has been investigating the matter since he reported it Oct. 21. Police believe the incident happened sometime during the evening between Oct. 18 and Oct. 20 while the school was empty during the MEA break.

“It is one of our priorities right now because of the extent of the damage and [because] Community of Saints has been a fixture in our community,” said Lieutenant Brian Sturgeon.

Roll-painted graffiti on the walls, fire extinguisher spray on the floor, shattered fluorescent lights and caution tape streamed across center court polluted the gym. The kitchen was also littered and sprayed. Outside, the parking lot had graffiti with the name “Danny” written on it, but school officials don’t know to whom it refers.

Police have accepted leads regarding the matter and will continue to welcome leads or tips. Sturgeon said the case will remain open while forensic evidence is processed.

Walls of the gym at Community of Saints were painted with graffiti and debris was left on the floor in addition to the paint supplies. Courtesy West St. Paul Police

Where the paint supplies came from and what the graffiti letters meant hasn’t been determined. Police know whoever is responsible broke into the school through a window by removing the screen and forcing the window open.

“They don’t believe anything was actually stolen,” Sturgeon said of the school staff. “We believe it was probably some youth that got in there and just had a heyday.”

School maintenance worker Ed Mendoza cleaned and repainted the gym the morning of Oct. 22. He also cleaned up the kitchen.

“He pretty much cleaned up everything on his one within two days,” said Bridget Kramer, principal of Community of Saints. “He came in at five in the morning Monday morning and had painted over everything within six or seven hours.”

Students began using the gym again Oct. 24. Kramer said Mendoza and maintenance staff’s efforts helped the students return to a sense of normalcy at school.

“Our biggest thing was we want to make sure our families feel safe and our students — especially our students — are feeling safe and understand that things like that don’t normally happen when people are in the building,” Kramer said.

Kramer estimates unofficially there is more than $1,000 worth of damage to the school. Earlier this year, Community of Saints signed a 20-year lease for the building, as enrollment has increased 25 percent over the past three years.

“It has been amazing — the community support and all the people that have reached out to ask how they can help,” Kramer said. “It definitely hasn’t let us be down.”

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