Police: Former students started school fire

arson2.jpgWhen I picture an arsonist, I imagine a stealthy, grown man, wearing dark clothing and a mask. He’s deranged, shadowy, and possibly drug addicted. Maybe I should adjust my mental picture.

Remember the fire last week at Sobrante Park Elementary School? Two brothers, ages 12 and 16, have since been charged with arson and vandalism. They live in the neighborhood and used to go to school at the school they are accused of damaging.

Here’s what the police told us: The younger brother, who goes to Madison Middle School, said he found the portable unlocked one day and went in to steal marker pens. sobrantearson.jpgHe went back two days later, and when found it unlocked again, he ran to get his big brother.

The two brothers then started throwing papers around the art room (shown here, to the right); the older one said he lit a piece of paper on fire and dropped it to the floor.

He said it was an accident.

top image from Back to Bront’s site at flickr.com. Below image by Tribune photographer Ray Chavez

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Sue

    Well, I don’t know these kids or their history, so what follows might not apply to them at all.

    When I was 11/12/13 (don’t remember exact age any more) our neighbor’s hay barn burned down and took a big portion of an alfalfa field with it. $40k loss. We never told anyone and no one was ever caught, but my sisters and brother and I knew who’d started the fire. The neighbor’s younger son, who was also my age.

    Poor judgement! Not malicious intent. The “firebug” had been with my littlest sister and baby brother the day before the fire. They were on top of the hay stack, lighting matches and throwing them into the loose hay on the floor, then jumping down and stomping out the fires.

    There were no other fires in the county for years after that one. It was very bad and very scary, and everyone, including the “firebug”, learned a very important and permanent lesson.

    My little bit of ancient history may have nothing at all to do with the current situation. But I hope this was another case of kids-doing-something-dumb, and that the district’s students, and particularly the kids involved in this fire, will learn something important, and that this is the end of fires being set in our schools. I live in hope!

  • Nextset

    It is up to the schools to secure their premises. I don’t want to hear it about how the poor school district became a victim yet again because they don’t have night watchmen, don’t have effective surveilance and alarm systems, or just can’t seem to keep the places locked up. We know that times are tough we know that some kids are disturbed (read firebugs) and hate the school – so what else is new?

    When the place burns to the ground I hope the new campus complex is actually designed for safety and security, for a change.

  • antwon h.

    This report is wrong ima junior in high school now and I thought about this and looked it up what happen was I went up to the school one day to play but nobody was there so I just walked around then I seen the art portable and remembered all the fun times I had then I realized the steel bar wasn’t locked on the door so I took I and started playing with it and I started leaving the school to go home then I saw some little Mexicans on the school roof and they asked me where did I get the steel bar from I told them that I got it from the art portable and they asked if I checked to see if it was unlocked I said no they lets check and so we did and it was unlocked so we all went in an started taking pens an markers then we left on my way home I saw my friend and to her what happen and she said lets go back and stupidly I said yes so we took some more stuff now we are on our way back and we see my brother get off the bus and tell him about it so we drop the stuff off at our houses and go back again and in the middle of us taking stuff my friend cut some of the wires In the heating system I tell her to stop but she doesn’t listen because she’s bigger than me then my brother lights apiece of art work on the door on fire and tries to put it out but can’t so we all just ran away. And we didn’t throw papper around the portable that’s just stupid. And because of all this I had to spend my thirteenth birthday in juvenile hall.and that’s what really happen