Graffiti investigation uncovers other crimes, police report

Sequim Police Department staff report they’ve solved other crimes through their investigation of graffiti discovered in early September.

Investigation into that incident — one that included spray painting at two Sequim schools of a swastika and a reference to a previous school shooting discovered on Sept. 4 — remains open and a potential suspect(s) has not been identified, said deputy police chief Mike Hill.

Investigations solved some “vehicle prowls that a group of juveniles committed as well as several other incidents of students vandalizing and spray painting on the different campuses,” Hill said.

The graffiti threats seem significant to those interviewed by police officers, he said.

Sequim Schools resource officer Kyle Resser continues to investigate and work with the school district to see if a student(s) was responsible for the graffiti, and/or if anyone has information on who might be responsible.

In an interview, Resser said the department is awaiting additional video surveillance to be sent to the department. He said they suspect a child/children did the graffiti.

Sequim Schools superintendent Regan Nickels also said that the graffiti is “likely a student-based issue” at a Sept. 14 community meeting.

Through his investigation, Resser said through speaking to juveniles, he identified culprits in vehicle prowls at two locations that occurred before school started. He said four children in middle and high school — no name, age or gender given — were referred to Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office for charges, and were later given diversion, an alternate sentence without legal sanctions.

Because the juveniles were given diversion, Clallam County Courthouse staff said no court documents are available.

Resser’s investigation also uncovered other graffiti and vandalism at Helen Haller Elementary School and around the school district’s athletic stadium over the summer, he said.

Some of the incidents were reported to police, and some not, Resser said, but none rose to the level of the graffiti incident.

He said part of the investigation included multiple interviews and finding photos and videos on social media.

School district officials handled disciplinary actions in-house for those incidents, he said.

Awareness was heightened around school safety before the school year started after the Sept. 4 discovery of threatening messages on two exterior walls at Helen Haller Elementary and on three windows at Sequim Middle School.

Schools started the new school year on Wednesday, Sept. 7, after consulting law enforcement, with multiple officers patrolling the Sequim campuses the first day out of an abundance of caution, according to Sequim Police staff.

Previously, the Sequim Gazette reported that one message at Helen Haller, written underneath a broken window, read “be ready” next to a swastika. A second larger swastika appears to be painted and painted over, according to provided photos.

Another painted message read “Sandy hook 2” — in an apparent reference to the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Similar messaging was found at the Middle School campus, Hill previously said.

All the graffiti found on Sept. 4 could be seen in court as a hate crime, he said.

Following the graffiti incidents, Sequim school board members decided to prioritize installing new security cameras starting in December at the campuses.

Resser said some of their leads in the case came from anonymous calls into the non-emergency line at Sequim Police Department (360-683-7227).

“They gave us another avenue to explore,” he said. “It broadened who we knew was out and about that weekend.”