The Maricopa High School cafeteria was trashed by vandals sometime between the afternoon of Dec. 9 and the early morning hours of Dec. 10, as equipment was tagged with graffiti, holes were punched in walls and food was stolen or destroyed.
MUSD Public Relations Director Tom Beckett said the extent of damage was in the thousands of dollars, but was primarily because of food that was damaged and not from major appliances being destroyed.
“It was relatively minor things that we could quickly repair,” he said, adding that the Arizona Department of Health came out to the site and gave clearance to re-open the cafeteria Tuesday after repairs were made. “There were a few holes in the wall we had to fix... but it could have been a lot worse.”
Beckett said the churches that hold services Sunday at MHS did not report any damage and it was not discovered until Monday morning when employees first arrived at school at 5 a.m. The Maricopa Police Department is investigating the incident with help from the State Gang Task Force.
“It’s hard to see at this point if it’s legitimate or wanna-bes,” he said.
Maricopa Police Department spokesman Stephen Judd said the police are continuing the case as a felony investigation. The graffiti left in the cafeteria is “something we have been seeing throughout the city and is not specific to this incident.”
The cafeteria was rendered unusable for the entire school day Dec. 10 and the MUSD administration put out a call to help for local restaurants and fast food places to help feed their students. Construction workers from McCarthy halted work for a time to help with both the cafeteria clean-up and delivering boxes of food.
“I can’t say enough thanks to the local businesses who helped us out,” Beckett said. “A number of them chipped in and gave us breaks on the prices. It made a difficult day bearable.”
Beckett joined Superintendent John Flores on campus for lunch Dec. 11 to check on staff and make sure operations were back to running smoothly.