LYNN, Mass. — Four kids are accused of breaking into Lynn English High School and causing chaos inside for an entire weekend.
School officials say they caught the four children playing basketball behind the school shortly after finding evidence of the destruction.
Lynn English High School Principal Thomas Strangie said an alarm that was supposed to be activated did not as one of the kids climbed through a window to let at least three others in through a back door.
Strangie said the children were in and out of the school all weekend.
"We have a wax machine, the four of them were driving on that," Strangie said. "They smashed through the wall and put a hole in it. Wreaking havoc, having the time of their lives. You see the video, they're laughing, thinking it was a great time."
Images show spray-painted walls, scattered trash and spilled soft drinks and coffee grounds throughout the school.
Strangie said a coach first noticed the damage on Sunday night, and school officials then matched surveillance footage to the group of kids playing basketball behind the school.
Only one of the four children is able to be charged, however, after a new revision to a Massachusetts state law.
"I was informed the only one they could arrest was the 13-year-old," Strangie said. "New law in Massachusetts, you can't arrest anyone under the age of 12."
Police confirmed that, just one day before the vandalism spree started, the new legislation was activated, preventing authorities from charging juveniles under the age of 12.
The two 11-year-old children and one 10-year-old caught in the incident were released to their parents with no legal consequences.
"I was in a state of shock," Strangie said. "Why would they change this law? It wasn't like they stole a candy bar. They did some severe damage to the building."
Parents in the area were outraged after the incident, and were left wondering how it all could happen.
"It definitely pisses me off that kids are doing that," one parent said.
Rosanna Frometa, a mother of five, said the incident can be traced all the way back to the children's houses.
"They’re not getting the right education at home, that's for sure," Frometa said. "They should all face consequences and get the same amount of treatment, no matter what age, because they need to learn."
Despite the outrage, Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee believes others can learn from the vandalism.
"They are getting an opportunity to make a better life for themselves in these schools," McGee said. "For these young people that made these mistakes, hopefully they can learn from this."
The 13-year-old involved in the case is expected to be arraigned in juvenile court on charges of daytime breaking and entering, and malicious destruction of property.
Strangie says crews have been cleaning up the mess for days, but the total cost of the damage has yet to be determined.
Cox Media Group