A gate left unlocked may have allowed vandals to drive onto the practice field behind Johnston High School, tip over a Port-A-John there, then take their vehicle onto the main field at the soccer complex, leaving deep ruts in its wake.
Mayor Joseph Polisena called a press conference at the soccer complex at about noontime today, and toured the damaged areas with Parks and Recreation Foreman Lou Prata, who said the gate behind the high school was apparently left unlocked.
The vandals apparently drove from behind the JHS football field, up a hill behind the gym, around a dirt path meant for maintenance trucks, and through the approximately 8-ft.-wide opening between yellow metal poles to the paved walkway to the soccer complex.
"This is disgusting, what they did," the mayor said as he saw the deep tire grooves dug into the turf at the soccer complex and the football practice field at the high school. "We're hoping that the cameras [at the soccer complex] can help identify the vehicle."
Along with review of the surveillance videos from the soccer complex, Polisena said school resource officers and detectives from the Johnston Police Department are trying to determine whether high school students may be responsible for the vandalism.
"We have our detectives working on this diligently," Polisena explained. "I've told the police chief that it's important to the kids of this community that we prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law possible — plus."
By "plus," Polisena added, he means that he plans to pursue the vandals' "parents, grandparents, whoever is responsible for these people if they're minors" for the costs of repairing the fields, which he estimated to be "thousands and thousands of dollars."
Polisena explained that the damage couldn't come at a worse time, since the town's soccer programs and other youth sports are set to begin within a few weeks — and there's a chance that sod added to the fields may not take root quickly enough.
"It's sad that they would do this, because they did this to kids of the community," Polisena said. "Once we find out who it is, they need to move out of town, they don't belong in this town — if I were their neighbors, I'd be reluctant to have them as neighbors, because they're just animals."
Anyone with information about the vandalism of the town's fields is asked to call Det. Thomas Dwyer at the police department at (401) 231-4210.