'White Power' and Swastika Graffiti at High School Just a Prank, Suspects Claim After Arrest

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."

New Times 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.
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.