GLOVERSVILLE - A senior at Gloversville High School is facing multiple charges after he cut down more than a dozen trees in front of the campus early Friday morning, city police said.
Kurtis Callen, 18, of 132 Norboro Road, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and third-degree criminal trespass.
Callen was also charged with third-degree assault for an unrelated incident.
One of the trees vandalized at Gloversville High School on Friday is shown. The tree, planted in 2007, was dedicated to the deceased members of the GHS Class of 1967.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
A marker indicates a tree at the spot was dedicated to the Gloversville High School Class of 1958 in 2008. The tree was one of the 17 trees vandalized at the school on Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
High school Principal Richard DeMallie said Friday morning 17 trees were cut down on the front lawn of the school.
Some of the trees were memorials to the deceased and gifts to the district by previous graduating classes, school district spokesman Craig Clark said.
Capt. John Sira said officers were on alert and patrolling in the area of the high school around 3 a.m. when an officer noticed the trees had been cut and an unidentified vehicle pulled into one of the parking lots.
He said an officer approached the vehicle thinking it was another patrol car, but it was actually a pickup truck. When the officer got near the vehicle, it fled the area.
After interviewing several students, Sira said, it was determined Callen acted alone in the incident and was driving the pickup truck.
"They spoke to a kid at the school who said he had been asked to participate in the cutting of the trees by the individual who did cut the trees," Sira said.
He said video surveillance was obtained from the scene, but the footage was not clear due to the rain.
However, Sira said based on the interviews and some of the images from the video, authorities had enough information to make the arrest.
Sira said Callen was transported to the station, and it was discovered he had an active arrest warrant for a separate incident on May 27 for third-degree assault. He said it was determined Callen struck his girlfriend during a dispute. He said Callen didn't admit to the incident during questioning.
Callen was arraigned and sent to the Fulton County Jail on $5,000 bail.
DeMallie said it was still too early to tell how much it would cost to replace the trees.
Callen is facing a five-day suspension, DeMallie said. Because Friday was the last day of regular classes before Regents exams, DeMallie said the senior will have to make up some tests. Unless Callen passes those tests, the principal said he believes the senior will not be able to graduate.
Further district charges may be filed, DeMallie said.
DeMallie said two people were seen on security footage committing the vandalism, and both are believed to be seniors. It appears the pair had planned on this being a senior prank, he said.
The police could not be reached Friday night for comment about another person allegedly being involved in the incident.
Goal post wrecked
The incident was the second time this week the school has been vandalized, but Sira said Callen was only charged in connection to the tree cutting incident.
Athletic Director Michael DeMagistris said Friday morning that on Wednesday, the district found out a goal post was destroyed Tuesday night.
He said it appeared an individual or multiple people were standing and jumping on the goal post when it snapped.
DeMagistris said the district will be unable to replace the post because the cost would be about $7,500 to $12,000.
He said the field goal post was found on an athletic field between the high school and middle school.
The field is used for practices for the modified football program.
Arthur Cleveland contributed to this story.