Highlights from

The Herald Democrat

50 Years Ago


School As Usual In Spite of Vandalism

May 10, 1971


Three schools of the Lake County school system in Leadville were vandalized late Friday and early Saturday. Damage estimates total $8,500.

Struck by the vandals were Lake County High School, Lake County Junior High School and West Park Intermediate School.

Leadville police made two arrests Saturday evening and one early Sunday afternoon in connection with their investigation. Arrested were David Leonard, 19, and two 17-year-old juvenile drop-outs.

Leonard is being held in Lake County Jail without bail on a charge of malicious mischief in excess of $500, a felony charge. He will appear in Lake County District Court today for the setting of bail and formal filing of charges.

The two juveniles were released to the custody of their parents.

The high school suffered the most extensive damage. The vandals apparently climbed a lumber pile outside the shop area, broke a window and entered the school.

In the shop area, they broke windows, turned over wood lathes and sanders, then picked up bricks, a shovel and fire extinguisher as weapons to use in the corridors and other rooms.

Light fixtures were smashed in various rooms. About 82 panes of reinforced safety glass were broken. Lockers were opened, and books, clothing and personal items were strewn in the corridor.

In the administrative offices, typewriters and calculators were knocked to the floor, diplomas for the 1971 graduating class were scattered around the office, and all the trophies smashed.

Typewriters and electronic equipment were knocked to the floor in the audiovisual lab. Books were ripped from the shelves in the library. Food was scattered about the home economics room.

Large light fixtures were broken in the cafeteria. The floor was covered with so much glass it appeared as though it had been struck by a snow storm.

In the junior high school, 30 windows were smashed, light fixtures broken and trophy cases smashed. In the intermediate school, 32 panes of glass were broken.

The events of the evening, as reconstructed by the Leadville Police Department, placed the vandals first at the intermediate school between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. Friday. They apparently then traveled to the junior high.

During the episode at the junior high, one of the juveniles apparently sustained a severe cut on one arm. Considerable blood was left in the building. The trail led to St. Vincent Hospital, where the trio told hospital personnel they had been in a fight and that the cut had been inflicted by a knife.

The vandals then allegedly went to the nearby high school and perpetrated their vandalism there, police said. After leaving the high school, they apparently broke windows in at least five Leadville business places.

The damage was discovered by the police while on routine patrol of the school building sites. When the damage to the intermediate school was discovered, police checked the other schools and discovered the junior high damage, but failed to notice the broken window at the rear of the high school shop area.

After discovering blood at the junior high, police contacted the hospital. This led to Leonard, who then implicated the other suspects.

Because of the high cost of insurance to cover vandalism, none of the school damage was insured. Replacement and repair funds will come from the school district’s capital reserve fund.

Lake County School District Superintendent Elmer McGowan placed the estimate of the wanton weekend school vandalism at approximately $8,500 Monday morning, although this figure could be higher when all of the costs are in.

The present estimate of the damage at the high school is now set at $7,000, including: replacement of tools; labor for repairs; ceiling lights and shades over lights; trophies and trophy cases; $3,000 of which will go toward the replacement of 82 panes of glass, including many of wire glass; typewriter equipment, calculators, clocks torn from walls, fire extinguishers, locker repairs, one lunch table, light switches, etc.

The only item that was apparently stolen from the high school was a saber saw.

The damage estimate at the junior high is $1,000, including labor; the replacement of 32 panes of glass, including some rather large ones 20 square feet or more; shades over lights; trophy cases; etc.

The main cost of the Annex will be for labor and for the 23 panes of glass broken.

McGowan estimated that the wire glass, including labor, will cost $5 per square foot. The Pittsburg Plate Glass people are sending a representative up from Denver today to assess the damage. They feel that they may have sufficient glass in stock in Denver for replacement. It will require a truckload of glass to replace what was broken.

School authorities were high in their praise of the work of the teachers, custodians, etc., all of whom came to the school and pitched in to clean up the mess and get the school read for Monday morning operations. Many students also joined in.

Everyone could not say enough for the fine work of the Leadville Police Department, members of which worked almost around the clock to solve the case. Police Chief Van Pelt and Officers Andy Medina, Blane Cave and Jim Dudley were singled out for their work above and beyond the call of duty.

The entire community was aggravated at the events at the schools, and everyone in authority responded to the utmost to solve the problem and to clean up the schools.

Today’s Chuckle


There may not be much to see in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.

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