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Juveniles charged in connection with $18K in damage to local school’s football field

The act of vandalism at Valley Hills High School's football field resulted in more than $18,000...
The act of vandalism at Valley Hills High School's football field resulted in more than $18,000 in damage.(Valley Mills Police Department)
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:05 PM CDT
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VALLEY MILLS, Texas (KWTX) - Police on Thursday announced Austin James Merenda, 17, of Crawford, and four juveniles were charged in connection with an act of vandalism at the Valley Mills High School football field that resulted in more than $18,000 in damage.

The vandalism was discovered the morning of Sunday, August 22, 2021, at the football field located at 1 Eagle Way in Valley Mills.

Police said Merenda and the juveniles drove onto the field in a 2000 Ford Ranger and a 2014 Dodge Ram and damaged approximately 16,375 square feet.

The juveniles reportedly came forward with their parents shortly after police shared video of the damaged field on social media.

Police said the vandals offered “a high level of cooperation” during the investigation, including a public apology from all five suspects on August 25, 2021 in front of a crowded room at Valley Mills High School.

The suspects stood before Valley Mills ISD school board members during the apology, police said.

During a school board meeting on August 26, the superintendent at Valley Mills ISD asked for the case to be presented to the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office.

On Monday, August 30, Valley Mills Police coordinated with the four juveniles and their parents to process the juveniles at the McLennan County Juvenile Justice Center in Waco.

That same day, an arrest warrant was obtained for Merenda from the McLennan County Precinct 4 Justice Court in McGregor.

Merenda then reported to the McLennan County Precinct 4 Justice Court to surrender to authorities and was later booked into the McLennan County Jail.

Meranda and the four juveniles will be charged with criminal mischief over $750 but Less than $30,000, a state jail felony.

Merenda’s bond was set at $3,000.

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