Five face charges in weekend vandalism

Mar. 11, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Two Grace Christian School students and three alumni were arrested this weekend in connection with a vandalism at the school, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

Sanford residents Wesley Michael Holder, 18, Jonathon Sawyer Williams, 18, and Ethan Samuel Sykes, 18, were charged with several crimes related to the vandalism, along with Moore County residents Nolan James Shoemake, 19, and Matthew Charles Hrabosky, 18.

Hrabosky and Holder are seniors at the school; the others are recent graduates.

According to the arrest report, a sheriff’s deputy was patrolling early Saturday morning and “found a suspicious vehicle at Grace Christian School, 2601 Jefferson Davis [Highway], at approximately 3 a.m. Upon further investigation, the deputy found five individuals that had broken into the school and had damaged two offices, three buses and the soccer field.”

Bill Carver, the school’s headmaster, said the group apparently egged the inside of the school’s main office and entryway in addition to driving a car on the soccer field and spraying fire extinguishers in the school buses.

But by Monday, the office was cleaned up, and Carver said the school buses had new fire extinguishers and the soccer field’s irrigation system wasn’t damaged. All in all, he said, the biggest expense to the school will be paying the staff members who graciously came in from 4-8 a.m. on Saturday to clean everything up.

Carver said he and other staff members aren’t angry, but they certainly aren’t taking the group’s actions lightly, either.

“The hardest part is that they’re like family to us,” he said. “What do you do when a family member messes up?”

Williams, Sykes, Shoemake, Hrabosky and Holder have each been charged with felony breaking and entering a place of worship, felony larceny, breaking and entering a motor vehicle, misdemeanor larceny, possession of stolen goods and injury to real property. All five were held under a $21,000 secured bond.

While Carver meets with other staff members and the school board to get further guidance — including what to do about Hrabosky’s and Holder’s future at the school — he said he’s also making sure that everyone stands back and lets the legal system work unimpeded.

“If there is one good thing in this, it’s that the other kids here can see the ramifications of acting like that,” Carver said.

This incident pales in comparison to other recent travails Grace has faced, at least as far as monetary damages are concerned.

Earlier this year, the school reported the embezzlement of $200,000 over the course of the past several years. And in 2012 one or more people spray-painted obscenities and racial slurs on multiple buildings — as well as on interior walls, desks, phones and computer screens — causing thousands of dollars in damage before breaking into the financial office and stealing about $700, the school reported.

No one has been charged in either case, but Carver said he doesn’t believe that Williams, Sykes, Shoemake, Hrabosky or Holder might have been involved. He has spoken with all of them briefly, he said, and believes that they’re repentant for an act he chalks up more to juvenile stupidity than to malice.

“We’re in the business of helping kids grow up, right?” Carver said. “That’s what we do. They made some bad choices, and now we need to help them.”