Vail: Boys scolded publicly over graffiti
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Two 17-year-old boys were harshly criticized by Vail town councilors Tuesday when the high school students apologized for spray-painting obscenities on a sidewalk in April.
Blaze Heuga, of Edwards, and Max Ward, of West Vail, both juniors at Battle Mountain High School, apologized to town councilors Tuesday night after they said they and other students spray-painted cement at the entrance to Donovan Pavilion the night before their April 5 prom.
Heuga and Ward wrote obscene messages about the school and two administrators and also drew genitals with black and red spray-paint, said Cmdr. Susan Douglas of the Vail Police Department.
“We didn’t mean to vandalize or destroy Vail in any way,” Ward told town councilors as a more than couple dozen people watched. “It was meant to be a prank, which sounds stupid, I know.”
The boys’ comments on the sidewalk were “unacceptable” and they should be “ashamed,” Town Councilwoman Kim Newbury told them.
“I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old and there’s a children’s park right there,” Newbury said. “What you did is disgusting.”
Heuga smiled at times, and Town Councilman Farrow Hitt told Heuga not to because there was “nothing funny about it.”
“Thanks for nothing and coming in here and screwing our town up,” Hitt said.
The boys said they also had apologized to the school administrators and teachers and had been suspended for three days. They brought a $485 check to pay for the damage that they said was their money ” not their parents’.
Heuga said he would avoid disrespecting the town’s and people’s property.
“It affects a lot of people, a lot families, a lot of kids,” Heuga said.
Ward said the consequences could have been “much more severe” and could have prevented him from getting into college, though “it’s definitely going to be harder now,” he said.
“I will never even think of doing anything sort of like along these categories ever again,” he said. “I realize the seriousness of it now.”
Mayor Dick Cleveland, an investigator for the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and a former police officer, repeatedly asked the boys to give the names of the other students involved. Ward said the boys were told they did not have to reveal those names.
“I want the other names of the people involved and I want it now,” Cleveland continued. “That’s part of the burden you guys need to carry. Do it now.”
As they stood rigidly with red faces, the boys said nothing.
“Do it. It’s the right thing to do,” Cleveland said. “You haven’t done anything right. Do it now.”
The boys did not respond.
Police had no leads in the case, so Assistant Principal Philip Qualman told police he could find out who vandalized the park, Douglas said.
Qualman said he could draw confessions from the boys if police agreed not to arrest them in connection with the vandalism, Douglas said. The students were to apologize, the school to discipline them and the boys to pay for the damage as a part of the deal.
Asked how the boys were caught, Qualman said, “It’s complicated” Tuesday after the Vail Town Council meeting. He declined to elaborate.
If police had pressed charges, Heuga and Ward would have faced criminal injury to property, which carries a penalty of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines and restitution.
“What you did was really stupid,” Town Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said.
Rogers said anyone else who has sprayed graffiti in Vail this month will get the same treatment if they had turn themselves in by Thursday night.
If they don’t come forward, Rogers will recommend they be “punished to the full extent of the law,” she said.
“They’re not going to get off as easy as you’re getting off,” she told the boys.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
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