Education

Swastika Among Damage Found In Vandalism Incident At School Bus Garage In Somers

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SOMERS, N.Y. - A swastika painted with the foam from a fire extinguisher taken from a school bus was among the damage found at the bus garage behind Somers High School on Monday morning.   

The alleged vandalism is being investigated as criminal mischief and not a hate crime, said Sgt. Mark A. Conway with the State Police at the Troop K Somers barracks. 

Steve DiPaolo, the owner of Royal Coach, the company that owns the buses, confirmed that a swastika and a capital "A" were painted using the foam from stolen fire extinguishers on the parking lot of the district bus garage behind Somers High School. Video footage from the surveillance system pulled by State Police showed a white male allegedly trespassing at the garage on Sunday, Jan. 3, at 11:04 p.m., he said.

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In addition, about 50 buses of the five-dozen fleet were out of service on Monday after bus employees found slashed tires and fire extinguishers taken from the buses that were used to break the front windshields and spray foam inside and outside the vehicles, DiPaolo said. 

The district's director of transportation, Joe Bernardi, was notified at 6:15 a.m., according to Matthew Carr, a spokesman for the school district who also serves as the director of Human Resources and Student Services. State Police were dispatched to the scene at about 6 a.m., according to a police press release. 

Carr said Monday morning that he expected schools to be open the rest of the week. DiPaolo confirmed that the buses would be ready for service by Tuesday morning.  
At 6:51 a.m. on Monday, the district notified parents that there would be a two-hour delay, but by 8:38 a.m., the district sent out a message saying that schools were closed. 

"Right now, it's a crime scene," Carr said in the interview on Monday morning, explaining that mechanics couldn't immediately work on the buses while State Police were investigating. Carr said mechanics would be able to place spare tires and windshields on the damaged buses later in the day.

At about 1:30 p.m. on Monday, a State Police officer and her K-9 partner, Lexy, were seen investigating the scene. The police handler used Lexy to sniff around the buses in search of leftover contraband.  

There was no monetary figure immediately available that was associated with the damage. 

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the New York State Police in Somers by calling 914-769-2600.  

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