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Anchorage MDA office destroyed in apparently random vandalism; 17-year-old held

Nathaniel Herz
Kristin George, president of the MDA Alaska board of directors, walks through the distruction on Monday, March 3, 2014, that occurred in the Sunday morning vandalism of the MDA office on Fireweed Lane. Anchorage Police have remanded a juvenile suspect.
Bill Roth
Kristin George, president of the MDA Alaska board of directors, surveys the damage to the MDA Alaska office on Fireweed Lane on Monday, March 3, 2014. Anchorage Police have remanded a juvenile suspect in the Sunday morning vandalism.
Bill Roth

The office of an Anchorage nonprofit was left soaked with water, smeared with blood, and strewn with smashed window glass and broken equipment after an apparently random act of vandalism by a 17-year-old , Anchorage police said.

The four full-time staff members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alaska were forced to work from home Monday after their office at 121 Fireweed Lane was broken into on Sunday morning.

Police said that they had found the suspect within an hour of the initial report, and he has since been charged with felony counts of burglary and criminal mischief. He is being held at McLaughlin Youth Center, and is not being identified by police because he is a juvenile.

Five computer monitors were destroyed, as well as a printer and phones, plus artwork and medical supplies, said Kristin George, the organization's board president.

"There was not a window that was left untouched," she added. "I was brought almost to my knees."

Police initially estimated $25,000 in damage, but the organization has not yet put a figure on its losses, which were insured, George said.

A sink had been ripped from a wall. Documents were damaged, and the organization's computer network was left inaccessible just two weeks before a key fundraiser that, ironically, is called a "Lock-Up," George said in a phone interview.

"Everything that he could touch or damage, he did damage," she said.

Anchorage police responded to a report of vandalism made Sunday morning by a security guard on a routine patrol, according to a written statement.

They found an office that veteran officers described as "one of the worst burglary scenes they'd ever seen," according to police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.

She declined to say how the suspect was found beyond a "preliminary investigation," and assistance from "some very observant citizens."

But she said he was found with "pretty severe lacerations," and had to be treated at a local hospital.

Derek Hsieh, the president of Anchorage's police union, said he was told that patrol officers located the suspect "based on injuries that were a result of the burglary."

(A suspect can be charged with burglary even if nothing was stolen, as long as a break-in was made with the intent to commit a crime inside a building.)

There was no obvious indication that the suspect had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but "that's something that will be part of our investigation," Castro said, adding that "he wasn't exactly cooperative with police."

MDA of Alaska works with 150 families across the state that have members suffering from neuromuscular diseases, according to George, the board president.

"I'd rather be talking about all the breakthroughs we're having," she said. "Sadly, that's not the story right now."

Since the break-in, though, the organization has been deluged with phone-calls from people asking how they can help, George said, which has left her with a nugget of hope amidst the mess.

"As much as I was looking around going, 'There's all this devastation,' I was going, 'Wow--our next step is going to be so beautiful,'" she said. "Because we've got all these helping hands that are willing to step up and help us right now."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.

 


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com