News

Recent Grads of Phoenix Charter School Try to Set Classroom on Fire; Cause More Than $100,000 in Damage

Rather than take their diplomas and put their teenage angst behind them, three recent grads of a Phoenix charter school decided to go back for one last hurrah -- which included trashing the place and setting it on fire, Phoenix fire officials say.

Phoenix Fire Investigations Director Jack Ballentine tells New Times that around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, the three former students, who have not been identified because they are juveniles, entered the Milestone Charter School at 4707 E. Robert Lee Street.

The three boys were there for one thing: to trash the place. And trash they did.


"It was just malicious," Ballentine says.

On the boys' path of destruction were 24 light fixtures, classroom windows, and a vegetable garden, which Ballentine says was part of a school project.

Simply breaking stuff apparently wasn't enough for the destructive trio, they tried to set the building on fire, too.

The boys, Ballentine says, set a garbage can on fire and threw it through a classroom window.

Luckily, the school's sprinkler system put out the fire but the damage caused by all the water was significant.

Ballentine says the boys were caught after investigators followed a series of leads that led them to one of the suspects. That suspect admitted to vandalizing the school and ratted out his accomplices.

The boys must have had a less-than-satisfactory experience at the school -- we asked Ballentine if this was just a case of some kids who wanted to cause a little trouble and let things get out of hand. He responded with "well, one of the boys said he wanted to burn the whole building down."

The boys, Ballentine says, didn't give a reason as to why they tried to burn down their alma mater.

In total, officials estimate the cost of the damage to be in the neighborhood of $100,000. The boys involved have all been arrested and admitted to vandalizing the school.

Nobody was injured during the fire.

It's unclear exactly with what -- if anything -- the boys will be charged.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King