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Two juveniles to be charged in vandalism of 30 school buses

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two teens have admitted to their roles in vandalizing 30 school buses at a depot in Braxton County, authorities said.

Brenda Wells, director of curriculum and support services for Braxton County Schools, said employees found the damaged buses when they arrived at work Wednesday morning. All but two of the county's fleet suffered damage. The depot is in Sutton near Braxton County High School.

Broken glass, damaged and discharged fire extinguishers and destroyed cameras littered the lot. Some of the buses had every window broken out, she said.

"We only have two buses not touched," Wells said. "It was quite a sight to see."

The buses, including the 89-passenger flat nose vehicles, were parked in lines. The windshields were busted in most of them. The glass doors were shattered. 

The vandals also broke out windows with fire extinguishers and then discharged the devices inside the buses, State Police Sgt. Andrew Shingler said.The damaged buses included those used to transport special needs students.

Troopers believe it happened between 11 p.m. Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday.

"It takes a little time and planning to damage 30 buses," Shingler said.

A woman heard about the incident on the television news and suspected a teen she knew had been involved. She confronted him and his friend and the pair "spilled their guts," Shingler said.

She called the authorities. Troopers and Braxton sheriff's deputies worked together on the case.

The teens, 16- and 17-year-old boys from the Little Birch area, admitted to law enforcement they were involved in the destruction, Shingler said. Their motives were unknown Wednesday night.

The teens will be charged via juvenile petition but face multiple felony charges including destruction of property and breaking and entering. They were released to their parents Wednesday night. 

Shingler hasn't ruled out the possibility that others were involved and still are investigating.

Wells estimated one of the buses suffered about $3,000 in damages. Shingler estimated at least $100,000 in damages for the fleet.

Wells said the buses were insured and would be repaired.

"We're certainly looking forward to see who would do something like this," she said.

Wells said the bus service is for the benefit of the children and doesn't understand why anyone would want to damage the buses.

"Had this been during the school year they would have canceled school," Shingler said. "There was no way they would have been able to get the kids to and from school."

The vandals didn't stop with the vehicles. They also hit the "shack," a place at the depot where bus drivers can go in between runs.

"It was torn up pretty badly," she said. "The electronic devices, the microwave, the coffee pot, were thrown into the floor and smashed."

A PlayStation 2 video game system kept in the drivers' lounge was destroyed and all of its games were stolen, said a former bus driver who did not want to be named. Ketchup and mustard was splattered all over the room.

Shingler said the community is outraged. The phone at the detachment was ringing steadily Wednesday with businesses in that area offering security footage to help in the investigation.

Anyone with information can contact State Police in Sutton at 304-765-2101 or the Braxton Sheriff's Department at 304-765-5122. Callers may remain anonymous.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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