Northwest High School was vandalized over the weekend on Oct. 29 by someone shooting BBs and damaging 17 windows throughout the building.
The school was just latest building to be targeted by an individual or group of individuals who have been shooting out windows of retail establishments in Germantown over the last two months, according to 5th District –Germantown MCPD Commander Mark Plazinski.
Since late September there have been more than a dozen instances of BB gun vandalism at restaurants and retail establishments in the Germantown Town Center area and Northwest is just latest to be targeted, according to Plazinski. He said this weekend’s damage at Northwest marked the first time a school was targeted.
In letter sent to parents by Northwest High School Principal Jimmy D’Andrea, he said that 17 windows throughout the building were shattered by BBs over the weekend. He explained that only the outer-panes of the double-paned windows were shattered. It does not appear that any of the inner panes were damaged.
D’Andrea said vandalism was rare a occurrence at the the high school. “I have worked in the Northwest community for more than 10 years, and there has never been vandalism like this during that time,” he said.
“We are working with the Montgomery County Police to investigate the situation, as the police shared that there have been similar incidents in Germantown in recent days,” he said in the letter to parents.
Police were called to Northwest at about 7:30 pm on Sunday, Oct. 29 after a member of the MCPS maintenance staff noticed the damage. “The Northwest incident is definitely BBs,” said Plazinski, “the penetration wasn’t strong enough so it is not going all the way through to the second pane of the windows, and we found some BBs at the scene.”
Plazinski said that there had been 12 other incidents in the Germantown area where buildings have been shot at by BBs, he said the Dairy Queen in the Germantown Town Square Shopping Plaza at the corner of Wisteria Drive and Great Seneca Highway has had their windows shot out on three different occasions. He also said that a window on the Mattress Warehouse store located in the same shopping center was targeted.
The Taco Bell restaurant on Crystal Rock Drive, as well as the Avail Vapor store at in the Safeway Shopping Center in Germantown Town Square have both been targeted twice, said the police commander.
He also listed the Pizza Hut restaurant on Crystal Rock Drive, and two businesses on Century Boulevard — the Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant and the Strive Martial Arts studio as being attacked by vandals. According to Plazinski, four of these incidents took place on the evening of Friday, Oct. 20.
He said that most of these incidents are taking place on Friday or Saturday nights. “A couple of the windows have completely shattered, and some have just showed the BB penetration. It depends on the type of material the window is made of,” said the commander. He said there had been no injuries and the vandals are not shattering the window and then looting the store.
“I suspect it might be a group of kids driving around and shooting at buildings,” said Plazinski but he couldn’t be sure. “We did assign it to our Patrol Investigative Unit and they are following up on all of these incidents.”
Plazinski warned that this sort mischief was ill advised and dangerous.
“This is a stupid crime, where people are damaging other people’s property and doing it in a dangerous way, because if an officer sees someone point any kind of gun out of a car, they are not going to be thinking that is a BB gun,” said Plazinski. “We never think toy gun or BB gun, when we see somebody point a replica fire arm out of a vehicle. There is not only police officers, but there are citizens who are armed out there. These suspects are being mischievous with these BB guns that look like firearms and it is not a safe situation”
“Beyond the classic mother line about shooting your eye out, there are other consequences to doing an act like this where we could have a tragedy where an officer encounters some kids who are engaging in mischief criminal destruction of property, but they are doing it with something that appears to be a firearm. That is not something that we want to have our officers encounter as they pull up on them in a vehicle,” he said.
Plazinski said officers arrested on juvenile on Tuesday, Oct. 24 who was spotted by police shooting at car windows in the parking lot near the Outback Steakhouse on Wisteria Drive in the same shopping center where Dairy Queen is located. However, the attacks have not stopped.
He also said that, just Monday, officers arrested another juvenile attempting to shoplift a BB gun from the Wal-Mart in the Milestone Shopping Center.
Plazinski said that the BB gun trend doesn’t seem to be something that is happening in Montgomery County as a whole. “This seems to be limited to Germantown, and is not something that is a trend throughout the county,” he said.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Nov. 1 at 8:30 am.
Top: Boarded up windows and a door at the Dairy Queen restaurant in the Germantown Town Square Shopping Plaza at the corner of Wisteria Drive and Great Seneca Highway after it has been the victim of vandalism three times in the last six weeks.
Next: The windows of Northwest High School show the shattered outside panes on the northern portion of the school after they were shot with BBs over the weekend.
Next: The school says 17 windows were shot with BBs on Sunday, Oct. 29.
Next: A boarded up window at the Taco Bell on Crystal Rock Drive is one of a half-dozen locations which have been shot with BBs in recent weeks, according to police.
Next: Two windows on the Germantown Road side of the Avail Vapor store in Germantown Town Center. The Avail Vapor store has been targeted by vandals with BB guns on two occasions.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.