Teens in 2 states arrested for school bus vandalism

Posted on February 1, 2011

Incidents of school bus vandalism occurred within days of each other in Lee County, Fla., and Washington County, Wis., last month.

On Jan. 20, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of damage to numerous Johnson Bus Co. school buses. The buses had been parked at the company’s terminal in the town of Kewaskum.

Responding deputies discovered that tires had been deflated and electrical cords heating the engines had been unplugged. The damage prompted Kewaskum School District officials to postpone the start of school for two hours to allow for repairs.

During the day, school officials and authorities were able to develop information on possible suspects. Three Kewaskum High School seniors, ages 17 and 18, were interviewed by authorities and admitted their involvement. A fourth person from West Bend, also 18 years old, had reportedly driven the other suspects to the bus company where the damage was done.

Damage and restitution was placed in excess of $1,000 by Johnson Bus Co.

The sheriff’s office said it anticipates requesting criminal charges against all four suspects as a result of their involvement.

A few days later, on Jan. 24, detectives with the Charlie District Criminal Investigation division of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office arrested three juveniles for school bus vandalism at a school in Fort Myers, Fla., that was reported on Jan. 18.

Deputies arrived on scene that day after receiving the call and discovered that seven buses, two trucks and one trailer had been damaged. The buses and trucks had all their windows shattered. The perpetrators had also attempted to break the vehicles’ mirrors, and each vehicle’s fire extinguisher had been removed. Each of the vehicles was estimated to have damage exceeding $1,000.

During the course of the investigation, detectives uncovered four additional acts of felony criminal mischief committed by the teens. In all, each teen faces at least 20 felony charges.

(In the week after committing the vandalism at the school, the teens vandalized four vehicles at a university parking garage. They slashed tires and broke the vehicles’ windows.)

Alec Zielinski, Christian Alexander Kenney and Thomas Gonzalez were arrested for 10 counts of burglary, four counts of felony criminal mischief, five counts of grand theft of a fire extinguisher and one count of grand theft.

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File photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

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