Vandals Strike in Odessa Neighborhood

by Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The group that calls themselves the "West Texas Criminals" labeled many buildings all over Odessa, but five schools, Bonham, Crockett, Ector, Cavasos, and Permian High sustained the most damage.

The maintenance staff said they wanted to work as quickly as possible to clean it up, and by the time school started back up, it was out of sight.

"I was shocked to find out the scope of how bad it was," Ron Davis, Director of Maintenance for E.C.I.S.D., said. "The impact to the school district is probably a lot of loss of labor time and money. It costs about $100 an hour to send one man and the crew, and the sandblasting machines out to take care of some graffiti.  And we'd rather use that $100 an hour on something that's more productive for the kids."

The total cost to remove the writing from all five schools was $2,000.

Maintenance workers say it took their whole weekend to get the buildings back to normal.

"As much stuff as they covered," Michael Scotts, Lead Painter for E.C.I.S.D., said. "From Ector, they covered the whole south side of the building pretty much with spray paint, so it was a lot of stuff they did."

The E.C.I.S.D. Police Department says they are in the process of talking to witnesses and gathering evidence.

"It's not a gang-related situation," Lt. Mark Rowden with E.C.I.S.D. Police said. "It's just kids that are uncontrolled and unsupervised by their parents out doing things they shouldn't be doing."

Not only did they tag schools, but they marked Odessa homes. You don't have to look far to find their symbols all over the place.

The Odessa Police Department is working with E.C.I.S.D. Police in this on going investigation.

"We're going to use pretty much everything at our disposal in order to put a case together and hopefully bring this to a close," Rowden said.

Police say that it's typical for groups of kids to change their names frequently.

This week they were the "West Texas Criminals," but who knows what they might call themselves next week.

They have identified a few possible suspects, and they plan to continue looking at evidence in this ongoing investigation.