Creswell, News

Four juveniles face mischief charges

A Creswell deputy parks at Harry Holt Park during a past event hosted by Lane County Sheriff’s Office. Creswell public safety results show that Creswell residents want at least one new deputy. Chronicle Archives

CRESWELL – Four juveniles, including one from Creswell, have been charged by Lane County Sheriff’s Sergeant Scott Denham for multiple acts of criminal mischief following incidents of graffiti at Holt Park, the high school and residential property.
The Chronicle does not print the names of juveniles, and public safety officials do not release their names.
Denham said this same group is responsible for vandalism in Cottage Grove around the same period of time. Additionally, other charges and cases have been or are in the process of being investigated by Eugene Police that involve some of the same juveniles.
”It’s in the district attorney’s hands now to decide how to move forward,” Denham said. ”The ringleader isn’t going to be around for a while, no matter what.”
All four juveniles have been issued ”Park Exclusion Notices” for one year, which bans them from Holt Park. Only one of the four is from Creswell, and he was involved in multiple incidents, including those at the high school and Holt Park.
One juvenile, who was recently listed as a runaway from Eugene, was charged in four cases from November, as well as an October incident at Holt Park. He faces an additional Criminal Mischief 1 in all cases as a part of the aggregate statute that says all cases can be tied together if there are multiple victims in a 30-day period.
The incidents began in Creswell on Oct. 27, 2019, when vandalism and graffiti were reported at Garden Lake Park. An eyewitness said the juveniles who committed the acts were wearing red bandanas.
More calls came in on Oct. 28, 2019, with reports of the men’s restroom at the park having the same style of graffiti on the walls. This occurred between noon-2:30 p.m., and video surveillance led to charging one local juvenile and one runaway juvenile from Eugene with Criminal Mischief 2 in this and the previous case.
The Holt Park damage was the most severe, and cost the most to clean up, Denham said. Besides graffiti in the men’s room, the basketball court was sprayed with vulgar tags and references to a ”school shooter.” The school shooter reference was to an incident previously investigated and resolved; it was not a new threat, Denham said.
The damage to the park and other areas is estimated at nearly $3,500, and could still increase, according to City Manager Michelle Amberg. The special surface on the basketball court and the expertise needed in removing the paint. Three juveniles have been charged with Criminal Mischief 1 related to that incident.
More vandalism occurred on Nov. 15 and the weekend of Nov. 17-19. These acts included spray-painted vandalism at Holt Park, Creswell High School, Cedar Court and Meadow Lane. It is unclear if all incidents happened the same night, or over the weekend at different times.
On Cedar Court, a pass-through fence from the back of the school to Cedar Court was painted with graffiti. Two juveniles not associated with Creswell were charged with Criminal Mischief 3.
On Meadow Lane, the rear of a car was spray-painted with gang-style graffiti. One juvenile identified as the suspect was charged with Criminal Mischief 3.
Creswell High School’s far-field fence and baseball dugout were spray-painted with vulgar and gang-style tag graffiti. Additionally, on Nov. 17, the same group tagged the inside of the portable restroom at the field. Two juveniles, one local and one from Eugene, were charged with Criminal Mischief 2.
During the investigation, Sheriff’s officers learned from Creswell High School officials that several students were disciplined for displaying red bandanas, and attempting to become a group. No further action was necessary as most stopped the behavior, Denham said.
”Hopefully, we’ve put a stop to any gang activity developing here,” he said.