ECB Publishing, Inc.
Under Florida Statute 985.04, the name, photograph and arrest report of a juvenile offender who commits an felony offense, is charged with a felony violation, or is transferred to an adult court of law is not considered confidential and exempt solely because of the child's age. All information has been obtained by ECB Publishing reporters from local law enforcement agencies and was released legally and fairly.
After sitting empty for the last few years, the Jefferson Elementary School was expected to receive a facelift and return to the community as a community center, which would be run by the 11th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The 11th Episcopal District had planned to use the former school campus as a community center which would benefit Jefferson County youth and adults through the provision of proposed programs that would encompass child care, health care, job training and more.
Only months after coming to a lease agreement with the Jefferson County School District (which still owns the school campus), on Sunday, March 3, the 11th Episcopal District received a call that stated the JES building had been broken into and
After meeting with members of the school district, as well as officers from the Monticello Police Department, it was discovered that several glass doors and windows had been broken by vandals.
The inside of the building also sustained extensive damage from the vandals, such as dispersed fire extinguisher agent throughout the campus' rooms and halls, scattered paperwork, damaged books that had been thrown “haphazardly” around the rooms, broken fluorescent light bulbs, as well as crude and profane graffiti drawn on the walls of the school.
Bookshelves were pushed over in the media center, with the books being tossed into piles. The windows to interior doors were broken.
Despite the extensive damage, law enforcement officers were able to determine that no items appeared to be stolen.
With no witnesses to the break-in or vandalism, investigators at the MPD continued to review the case without many leads until Thursday, March 21 when Sgt. Tharpe made contact with a juvenile subject.
During an interview with the subject (post-Miranda rights reading and with a parent present), the juvenile provided information about the destructing vandalism at JES.
The juvenile explained that the group of young perpetrators had planned to go to JES and "just explore" the empty building.
However, once inside the building, the juvenile claimed that another juvenile began “acting stupid” by spraying fire extinguishers while running down the hallways of the school.
The group continued to explore and vandalize the campus by breaking windows and trophy cases, pushing over bookshelves, tossing books throughout the media center, breaking lightbulbs and drawing graffiti.
The total amount of damages are estimated to be in the excess of $30,000.
Over the course of several more days, Sgt. Tharpe interviewed four other subjects and each subject corroborated the statements of the other juveniles.
Warrants were released for the five juvenile subjects, with four being arrested shortly thereafter.
The fifth juvenile subject, Ezekial Gillyard, was booked into the Jefferson County Jail on Wednesday, April 3, after Gillyard turned himself in to law enforcement officers.
As of the last meeting of the Jefferson County School Board, it was not determined whether the 11th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is still interested in leasing the elementary school or whether a community center will continue to be planned for the school building.