ATHENS, Ala. – Athens Police say they have charged three people under the age of 15 with criminal mischief. They are accused of vandalizing a community center.
Officers were called to the Pincham-Lincoln Community Center in Athens early this morning. Someone who lives nearby told police someone was throwing rocks and possibly breaking windows at the community center.
Police arrived to find multiple windows broken out. They also found three juveniles both inside and outside of the building; they were ages 9, 10 and 14.
Investigators determined the trio broke the glass out of the back door to get inside. They then sprayed fire extinguishers throughout the building and used rocks and bricks to break most of the front windows.
Officers believe there to be thousands of dollars of damage to the building, though there isn't an official amount released at this time.
"I think this case is extremely sad because I have seen our community unite behind the Pincham-Lincoln Community Center and the Fort Henderson project. This project has been a blessing for The City of Athens and Limestone County," said Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson. "Looking back over the past years of planning and the good work by many, it’s sad to see the damage three juveniles caused in just a few minutes. Early this morning, I looked into the faces of two of the members of the Athens-Limestone Community Association. I saw the hurt, sorrow and other emotions as they walked through the building. In a few weeks when all the repairs are made, my desire is to see the hope in their eyes again of where the Pincham-Lincoln Community Center is serving our citizens and expanding their vision."
The Athens-Limestone Community Association released this statement, expressing its disappointment about the crime:
"The Athens-Limestone Community Association is very saddened about the recent vandalism of the newly renovated Pincham-Lincoln Center. During the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 29, three juveniles entered the community center and broke 23 windows and damaged other contents within the building. ALCA is glad that the Athens Police Department responded so quickly to the calls and they took the juveniles into custody.
ALCA’s dream of rebuilding the historic Trinity High School as the Pincham-Lincoln Center finally became a reality in December 2015 when there was a grand opening celebration marking 45 years since Trinity High School closed. “It took us years to put this together, and someone came and tore it up in just a few minutes,” said ALCA president Edward Gilbert.
ALCA board members and other City of Athens officials have been at the Community Center most of the day assessing the damage and devising a path forward. We are cleaning up the damage and will be restoring the Community Center to its original glory, but also increasing security at the center.
Our mission is to create a connection between the history and the future of Athens and Limestone County through quality programs and stimulating activities. The Pincham-Lincoln Center was merely one project for us to start providing that connection for the community. Although this is a minor setback in the community members being able to use the Pincham-Lincoln Center, ALCA is committed to ensuring this wonderful resource will be back in operation so others can use it. We believe that all of our guests entering the Community Center should feel welcomed and safe at all times. ALCA’s roots run deep because of Trinity High School and just like the Trinity story, we will “arise and build,” come back stronger, better and continue to do more to enrich the lives for those in our community.