Teenager charged with vandalizing Black River Falls elementary school

An elementary school in the Black River Falls School District was vandalized while it was being renovated in August of 2022.
A school in Black River Falls was vandalized, making the building unable to open on time for...
A school in Black River Falls was vandalized, making the building unable to open on time for the school year.(WEAU)
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 1:45 PM CST
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - A 17-year-old boy has been charged with vandalizing an elementary school in Jackson County last summer.

17-year-old Bruce Redbird of Black River Falls was charged with burglary and criminal damage to property, both felonies, in Jackson County Circuit Court on Friday.

Redbird is accused of causing over $1 million in damages to Forrest Street Elementary School in Black River Falls on Aug. 10, 2022. A second person was also charged, but details are not being made public because the second person is a juvenile, according to the Jackson County DA’s Office.

The damage done to the school delayed use of the building for several weeks while the Black River Falls School District worked to clean up the damage. The building was undergoing renovations at the time of the vandalism. According to court documents, the total amount of damages done, as well as the cost of cleanup, totaled $1,199,715.15.

According to the criminal complaint filed with the charges, Redbird and a juvenile broke into the school through a construction area, spraying hallways and classrooms with fire extinguishers. Investigators said in the complaint they found over a dozen spent extinguishers throughout the school. The corrosive residue damaged metals and technology inside of the building’s hallways and a few classrooms, as well as the school’s office. The library had also been damaged, along with windows, smart boards, speakers, doors, lights and a basketball rim.

Court documents state that a camera on the outside of the building was not active during the incident. School staff and Black River Falls Police were alerted to a pair of Snapchat videos during their investigations that led police to interviewing Redbird and the juvenile about the vandalism. Redbird and the juvenile in their interviews accused the other of doing most of the damage. The juvenile admitted to using one fire extinguisher, but blamed Redbird for the rest of the damages. Redbird said he was only there recording the juvenile damaging the school before he left.

“Initially, we thought it was destructive and challenging, but we really didn’t realize the full scope of the cleanup work that was going to have to happen,” Dr. Shelly Severson, Superintendent of the School District of Black River Falls said in August.

The DA’s office said that the Black River Falls Police Department is continuing to investigate the vandalism.

Redbird is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 20, according to online court records.