The two suspects in the apparently returned to one of the fields on the night of Mar. 3 and caused more damage, after town officials alerted police to the deep tire grooves left in the fields by the alleged vandals on Mar. 2.
Glenn Carroll, the vice president and competition coordinator for the town's youth soccer league, said during a phone interview Monday night that of driving onto the field there in two separate cars on the nights of Mar. 2 and 3.
"The [second] vehicle went up there Saturday night, after it was first reported," explained Carroll, who added that he first alerted parks and recreation staffers to the damage on the morning of Mar. 3.
"I went up there that Saturday to check on the work" that volunteer crews have been doing to level an area for new playing fields, Carroll explained, "and then I looked down the hill and saw the damage."
Mayor Joseph Polisena, in a separate phone interview, confirmed that had arrested one suspect, and that an arrest warrant was "being drawn up" against a second person.
Polisena declined to identify the men until a planned Wednesday press conference at the soccer complex.
With the help of Johnston Community Center Association Vice President Mark Gilmore, Carroll — who also serves as JCCA president — said he reviewed the surveillance footage from overnight Mar. 2.
"It recorded everything — you see the car driving right up there," Carroll explained. "From that, we were able to make still pictures and hand them over to the police department, and they were able to apprehend [the suspects]."
Along with the significant damage to the turf on both fields, Carroll explained that the suspects also dug up part of the soccer complex sprinkler system.
"We have an inground sprinkler system up there, and when they spun their tires, they snapped the sprinkler heads in the ground," Carroll said, adding that the water had previously been shut off at the facility.
Carroll also explained that he and recreation staffers have contacted several companies in the area to get bids for repairs; Polisena last week estimated the cost to be "thousands and thousands of dollars."
Mayor credits school resource officer:
While the mayor declined to confirm that one of the men may be a local student, Polisena did say that School Resource Officer Ptlm. James Seymore, who is assigned to the high school, "was instrumental" in identifying the suspects.
"Within 12 hours [of the press conference held Mar. 5], I got a call saying 'We got them,'" Polisena explained. "Officer Seymour had a lot to do with getting results in this investigation — it was because of the efforts of Officer Seymour and the detectives of the that we were able to identify these two people."
One of the suspects is currently out of state, Polisena confirmed, leading local officers to issue an arrest warrant.
"We are in the process of drawing up an arrest warrant for the suspect who's not in town, and we're going to send the police after him," Polisena said.
When police first contacted the out-of-state suspect's parents, "They said, 'You'll have to wait until he gets back for Easter,'" Polisena explained, "but we're not playing games here — this isn't going to be squashed."
Polisena repeated his intent to pursue both criminal charges and restitution from the two men, who apparently also drove to the practice field behind , tore up the wet turf with one of their vehicles, and turned over a Port-A-John.
"This shouldn't be put on the backs of the taxpayers," Polisena explained. "We've got probably 1,000 kids who play on our field, and we don't know where we're going to put them for soccer season — the perpetrators have to pay for this."
Damage 'disheartening,' says Carroll:
Carroll explained that the first home game for the town's Super Liga squad is scheduled for April 14, "but I'm not sure what we're going to do now — we're not sure we're going to be able to use the field."
The longtime soccer coach and league official also said he's not inclined to dismiss the mens' actions as a youthful prank.
"I have two kids, and as a parent, you know they're going to do stupid things [but] this is beyond stupid — you just wonder, 'What were they thinking?'" Carroll explained. "To drive your car up there and squeeze it between the two poles at the bottom of the walkway — they had no regard for anybody else's property [and] they knew the damage they were creating."
Asked for his reaction to the incident, Carroll replied: "It's just disheartening — and then to find out that two people from our town did that is like a slap in the face of all those people who put in the donations and the man-hours to give the kids something good. They're taking away something good from those kids."
Past articles on this topic:
- , Mar. 7, 2012
- , Mar. 5, 2012
Watch JohnstonPatch for updates — or click "Keep me posted" below to receive email alerts on follow-up articles.