South Bay News

Feds probing swastika at SJ school

Friday, March 20, 2009

The FBI is now involved in the investigation of a series of disturbing incidents at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose. One case of vandalism involved a 20-foot wide swastika burned into the school's front lawn with road salt. Another incident prompted an evacuation.

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An unnerving week came to a close today in San Jose at Evergreen Valley High School. Police want help in find those responsible for a series of disturbing incidents.

The latest was a swastika burned into the lawn with salt that led to rumors there would be violence on campus today.

Teenagers today have MySpace, Facebook and text messaging. That's how one rumor quickly gripped an entire school with fear.

"Everybody posted their own versions of it, but the main point was that there was suppose to be a shooting at school and there was a chain link of messages going around," said senior Randy Haas.

The panic at Evergreen Valley High School was fueled by a series of incidents. Over the weekend, someone used salt to etch a 20-foot swastika into a prominent lawn area.

It was being reseeded today even as the area's councilwoman came by to show her support.

"I think anytime you have a swastika, I happen to be Jewish, so a swastika is very offensive to me personally. But I do think sometimes people do things to get attention," said San Jose Councilwoman Rose Herrera.

Another attention getter -- 13 young trees were chopped down early Sunday morning. Now there is just holes in the ground.

And on Tuesday, several envelopes arrived at the school prompting the evacuation of the administration building.

"The person who does our mail one of them was addressed to her, she opened it and there was power inside," said Principal Cari Vaeth.

The white powder later proved to be harmless but all of this was the backdrop for Friday's rumors.

Extra police officers were called in as a precaution, but still about 35 percent of the school's 2,600 students didn't show up for class today.

"It's caused a lot of havoc, it's caused a lot of fear in parents and it's disrupted a lot of people's lives," said parent Rosemary Casto.

The district says if anyone is arrested in connection with the incidents, it will push for the fullest prosecution available under the law.

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