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5 teens sought in Hephzibah High fire, vandalism

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Officials say a fire that gutted a JROTC firing range at Hephzibah High School was arson. It will cost $500,000 to replace the building.
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Authorities are looking for five teenagers in connection with an arson early Thursday that badly damaged an indoor JROTC firing range at Hephzibah High School.

The blaze at Hephzibah High School was reported at about 4 a.m. Thursday. The five teenagers wanted in the fire are also suspected of other incidents of vandalism around the school.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
The blaze at Hephzibah High School was reported at about 4 a.m. Thursday. The five teenagers wanted in the fire are also suspected of other incidents of vandalism around the school.


Officials said the building will cost $500,000 to replace, and the same teens also are wanted in some vandalism that occurred at other areas of the school.

"(The fire) was intentionally set," said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine's office, which was called in by Hephzibah officials to assist in the investigation. "Currently we have video of five teenagers vandalizing the school. We are asking those five teenagers to turn themselves in to the Hephzibah Police Department."

Surveillance video wasn't released Thursday, but Allen said the vandalism and the fire resulted from the actions of two white females, one white male and two black males, all in their late teens.

Allen said Oxendine's office assisted in part by providing a canine that helped detect an accelerant.

"We do believe that available materials were used to set the fires," he said, declining to detail exactly what started the blaze.

Richmond County schools Facilities Director Benton Starks said the fire was reported about 4 a.m. Thursday. He said the 3,000-square-foot wooden structure, which is not attached to the Brothersville Road school's main building, is a total loss. He also said some pellet rifles and JROTC uniforms were damaged.

"I don't think we're going to save anything," he said.

Starks said officials found vandalism at a softball storage area and concession stand in the football stadium. Ketchup was smeared inside the concession, and equipment from the storage area was strewn about.

$10,000 Reward

Call the state's arson hot line at (800) 282-5804 with any information on Thursday's fire at Hephzibah High School. Anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction could receive $10,000.

Comments (43) Add comment
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Mwilli5009
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Mwilli5009 06/17/10 - 09:05 am
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Kind of vague, don't you

Kind of vague, don't you think? Aren't there any details regarding the severity of the fire?

Riverman1
90141
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Riverman1 06/17/10 - 09:53 am
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There will be no schools left

There will be no schools left useable in Richmond County before long.

Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 06/17/10 - 10:21 am
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So if there is arson, will

So if there is arson, will they prosecute or drop the charges like the superintendent and the RC police likes to do.

Riverman1
90141
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Riverman1 06/17/10 - 10:39 am
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Y'all think I'm joking about

Y'all think I'm joking about hiring officers for "specials" to keep an eye on the schools, but I'm not. Do away with the RCBOE law enforcement office run by Richard (Sign out hookers for Sunday afternoons) Roundtree. Hire off-duty RCSO officers to provide security for schools on nights and weekends and pay them private "specials" rates. That would work and save money.

veggie-d
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veggie-d 06/17/10 - 10:54 am
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vandalism?...sounds more like

vandalism?...sounds more like ARSON...and the culprits should get thoroughly "burned" when caught.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 11:06 am
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Riverman1, would you stop

Riverman1, would you stop talking long enough to listen. I am tired of telling you. Deputies do not want that kind of work. Oh and BTW, Roundtree doesn't run the RCBOE Police Department.

CarlA
114
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CarlA 06/17/10 - 11:17 am
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The BOE needs to invest in

The BOE needs to invest in some closed circuit security cameras. The cost of those these days is minimal and would be a great deterant to future thefts, vandalism of school property.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 12:22 pm
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CarlA, From another of my

CarlA, From another of my posts yesterday: "there is motion detectors in the school. Along with Video cameras. But the guys who install the windows and doors of the buildings are the ones responsible for installing the alarms systems and video devices. So, you can see why they do not work. These people installing these devices have no idea what they are doing!""It is like asking a plumber to hook up your cable service....."

oldenoughtoknowbetter
15
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oldenoughtoknowbetter 06/17/10 - 12:42 pm
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The gangs are taking over.
Unpublished

The gangs are taking over.

Hepkikyo
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Hepkikyo 06/17/10 - 12:57 pm
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Does the county have

Does the county have insurance on these school buildings to cover fire and vandalism?

corgimom
36418
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corgimom 06/17/10 - 12:58 pm
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But Augusta is safe and has

But Augusta is safe and has low crime. Just ask Countyman.

livinginthebuckle
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livinginthebuckle 06/17/10 - 01:01 pm
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Doesn't the school have

Doesn't the school have insurance?

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 06/17/10 - 01:33 pm
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This is getting out of hand.

This is getting out of hand.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 06/17/10 - 01:38 pm
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Yeah, Hep and living...I was

Yeah, Hep and living...I was wondering the same thing about insurance. I mean, we HAVE to have some sort of insurance on these buildings, right? And what in the world was in that building that was worth half a million dollars..beside the structure itself, which doesn't look near that costly. Does that amount include special equipment that's not included in this article, such as competition rifles? I'm thinking we'll need to give the AC alittle more time to gather information on this matter.

RoadkiII
6796
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RoadkiII 06/17/10 - 02:29 pm
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The guy from Hephzibah that

The guy from Hephzibah that won the $500,000 in the education lottery can donate his winnings to education and call it even.

Riverman1
90141
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Riverman1 06/17/10 - 03:03 pm
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Augustavoter said,

Augustavoter said, "Riverman1, would you stop talking long enough to listen. I am tired of telling you. Deputies do not want that kind of work. Oh and BTW, Roundtree doesn't run the RCBOE Police Department."

First off Lt. Roundtree (aka Greatfulmother) is a Lieutenant with the Richmond County Board of Education Department of Public Safety. Is there any uniformed officer (or otherwise) who outranks him? Dr. Bedden referred to Roundtree in the Glen Hills debacle as being the law enforcement officer he deferred to who didn't want to prosecute the thief who stole $14,400.

Secondily, my referring to RCSO officers handling school security as "specials" is a little tongue-in-cheek. It's obvious the RCSO doesn't help at all, plus the RCBOE officers are doing absolutely nothing to stop the vandalism. Someone needs to wake up the RCSO. School security should also be their priority.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 03:49 pm
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Riverman1, There are two

Riverman1, There are two people above Roundtree at that department. Chief Patrick Clayton, Retired DEA Special Agent for the Augusta Area, and Captain Ted Brown. So yes, "there (are) uniformed officer (or otherwise) who outranks him".

Secondly, RCBOE officers are 11 month employees of the school system. Most of the 45 officers are off for the summer. The school system does not want to pay them for 12 months so that is why they are not out there preventing this. There is probably 10 officers working out of the entire department right now and most of those are supervisors working 8-5 M-F. If you want to see changes then talk to the school board and have them increase taxes to pay for officers to work 12 months. But that would also mean more furlough days for the rest of the school system.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 03:51 pm
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Riverman1, you are right

Riverman1, you are right about one thing, RCSO does nothing to help RCBOE prevent these acts. They have the attitude that they are better than the RCBOE police officers and therefore refuse to help out.

Riverman1
90141
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Riverman1 06/17/10 - 03:53 pm
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AugustaVoter, thanks for the

AugustaVoter, thanks for the info..seriously. But have you noticed how the stink follows Roundtree around wherever he is?

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 03:57 pm
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*

*

Indigo
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Indigo 06/17/10 - 06:53 pm
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Put the footage on the news

Put the footage on the news and online.

corgimom
36418
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corgimom 06/17/10 - 08:12 pm
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But if they admit it, they

But if they admit it, they won't get in trouble. That's the way Augusta works, right?

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 08:13 pm
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Not sure what to say about

Not sure what to say about Roundtree. He has his qualities but he also has the political selfishness too. He is always pimping his name out there, I guess he is hoping to run for office someday. NP Riverman1. I am not one to "battle" online with anyone. I just hate the news not giving out complete information.

AugustaVoter
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AugustaVoter 06/17/10 - 08:14 pm
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Probably Corgi, Probably.

Probably Corgi, Probably.

areps2
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areps2 06/18/10 - 04:01 am
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See what we can accomplish

See what we can accomplish with racial harmony! Ain't the world a great place now? And we have our leaders of today to thank for our leaders of tomorrow. Ah, Mr. Bedden they are just kids forget about it, make them say I am sorry and let them go.

disssman
6
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disssman 06/18/10 - 05:04 am
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Well Well a new palace is

Well Well a new palace is required and it will only cost $167 a square foot for a wooden structure. Didn't take long to get an estimate. Lets see, I wonder what I could get in West Lake for $500,000? BTW with our policy of non-tolerance for weapons on school property (we pounce on grammer school kids drawing a picture depicting a gun). why do we need a shooting range anyway?

Now back to the story. Why haven't they shown teachers the videos so they can put these little darlings in JDC?

disssman
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disssman 06/18/10 - 05:14 am
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Augusta voter. The data base

Augusta voter. The data base shows 42 people in the department, and of those there are 24 who earn in excess of $35K a year. Are you telling us that they are paid that amount for a part time job? Surely we aren't paying these people to sit on their rears like teachers all summer long.

Indigo. They can't put "childrens" pictures on the TV, why that might give the little darlings a complex that they aren't loved.

beboisme
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beboisme 06/18/10 - 06:37 am
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Riverman1.Please enlighten me

Riverman1.Please enlighten me on your obvious discord with R.Roundtree. As I have known R.R. for many years I'd like to know if their is something about the man that I may have missed along the way. Not that what you say will change my opinion,but I am curious.

Richmnd Cty Votr
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Richmnd Cty Votr 06/18/10 - 12:54 pm
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Put em in the slammer then

Put em in the slammer then make the little darlings work to pay it off, each one paying 100,000.00. Then let them outta jail. Mom/dads talk to your children, let them know this is not acceptable behavior, before you child does something stupid. There must NOT have been a single LIVING BRAIN CELL between the 5 of them!

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