Juvenile suspects who were arrested on Wednesday in the case of racist graffiti found at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix last month are claiming the act was a prank, police say.
Sometime between 11 p.m. on March 24 and 5 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, someone scrawled swastikas and phrases including "White Power" and "White Suppremacy" [sic] in spray paint on a wall and pillar near the high school's auditorium.
The incident raised alarm in the community and made international headlines, coming at a time of reportedly increased instances of racist and anti-Jewish vandalism and bomb threats.
Phoenix police Sergeant Mercedes Fortune released a short statement about the arrests this morning:
"On April 5, 2017, investigators received information from the community that helped identify four suspects involved in this incident," Phoenix police Sergeant Mercedes Fortune said in a written statement on Thursday. "Several of the suspects admitted to their involvement in the incident and claimed that their intent was a prank and not bias related. The juveniles were arrested and released to their parents. The investigation is ongoing."
In response to several questions by Phoenix New Times
, Fortune also released the following non-answer: "A crime was committed and they were arrested."
also left a message with Pinnacle High School Principal Troy Bales — we'll update this article if he calls back.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Paradise Valley...
A juvenile who spray-painted swastikas on school property in and around Cherokee Elementary School won't face prosecution, authorities said.
Following an investigation by Paradise Valley police and the FBI, a detective worked with the Town Prosecutor in which "the juvenile will be held responsible for his actions without the involvement of the juvenile justice system," according to a Tuesday article in the Paradise Valley Independent.