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Charges filed in Adrian vandalism

WORTHINGTON -- Charges have been filed against four juveniles allegedly responsible for a series of vandalism events in and around the city of Adrian in March.

At the time of the incidents, three of the juveniles were 15 years old, the other was 16.

According to Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore, each of the juveniles was charged with second-degree arson, conspiracy to commit second-degree arson and negligent fires over $2,500, all felonies. Those charges come in connection with the intentional ignition of hay bales in and around a trailer parked on Main Street the night of March 20.

According to a comment from Adrian Police Chief Shawn Langseth around the time of the damage, the bales were set on fire, and the fire spread to a nearby building. The Adrian Fire Department was dispatched to the blaze at 2:44 a.m. March 21.

The trailer was used for a parade celebrating the Adrian High School state basketball tournament, and wished the girls' team good luck. It was reduced to ashes.

The resulting fires caused damage to the Nobles Count Review building in excess of $25,000, according to editor Kathy Burzlaff. Owner/Publisher Jerry Johnson is still working with the insurance company, Burlzlaff said, and the repairs on the building have not yet been completed. An office that held stored newspapers and billing documents was destroyed in the blaze.

Damage to the trailer and hay bales was estimated at $3,500, according to Moore.

Each of the juveniles was also charged with aiding and abetting first-degree criminal damage to property arising from the intentional breaking of windows at the Adrian Fitness Center attached to the high school the same night. The cost to replace the broken windows and carpet damaged by imbedded glass shards was approximately $5,800.

Three of the juveniles were also charged with damaging a motor vehicle passing by on Nobles 35 the same night. The allegedly threw a beer bottle at the vehicle, causing over $600 in damage.

"I think it is all pretty much connected," Langseth stated in March. "And it all probably occurred at approximately the same time."

Moore referred to the juveniles' actions as "criminal mayhem," calling those actions "outrageous, inexcusable and in total disregard of the rights and safety of the Adrian Community.

"Justice demands that those responsible for the damage inflicted, particularly the serious damage to the Nobles County Review's building and property, be held accountable in a court of law," Moore stated in a news release. "While the rules of the court keep much information confidential about juvenile proceedings, the public should know that the law enforcement agencies involved and my office consider these cases to be extremely serious and that those individuals who perpetrated these acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted by law."

The investigation into the incidents was a complex and time-consuming joint effort between officers of the Adrian Police Department at the Nobles County Sheriff's Office, Moore said.

He encouraged any citizen who may have information about these or any other crimes to bring it to the attention of law enforcement, as the investigation into the March 20-21 damage and other related incidents in ongoing.