Investigators say the suspects smashed windows out of classrooms and vehicles and damaged the student garden at the elementary school. But the vandalism could have been worse if not for some vigilant neighbors.
Fruits and vegetables are still growing in the educational garden at Mariposa Elementary School, but administrators say vandals pulled out most of the wooden beams and tossed several oak barrels and clay pots over the fence into the street.
"The kids really take a lot of pride in what they do in the garden so it would be the same as if someone vandalized or damaged someone's actual class work," said Jared Pierce, Mariposa Elementary Principal.
Neighbors heard the noise early Saturday morning and called authorities, who discovered even more damage on the campus.
"The deputies on scene located an amount of vandalism, a vehicle glass broken, school generally vandalized. It looked like there was an attempted burglary into a storage shed also," said Mariposa County Sheriff, Doug Binnewies
Investigators later found the suspects also hit the high school, smashing the windows out of two classrooms and two more vehicles. But Binnewies says thanks to the quick response by witnesses, deputies caught the suspects trying to run from the elementary school. They arrested 20-year-old Austin Card-Rhoan and Lalen Lemire with the help of a K9.
"It does appear that alcohol, maybe marijuana was involved. We're continuing to investigate that, but the two we did arrest that evening appeared to be very intoxicated." Binnewies said.
Authorities also arrested 19-year-old Tyler Engman for public intoxication and are now investigating whether he and a fourth possible suspect played a role in the vandalism.
"Shame on the people who vandalized our garden," Pierce said.
Pierce says it's a senseless crime, but he's thankful the damage wasn't worse.
"It just shows that mariposa is such a tight knit community, and we're lucky we have neighbors who look out for us and call and be on site to make reports when something bad does happen, which is very rare," Pierce said.
The sheriff says one of the vandalism suspects, Austin Card-Rhoan became combative toward jail officers and deputies, so he's now facing additional charges.