Fortunately, the police are working at night, too.
I awoke to this news bulletin from Fresno Police Department about the school where I am chaplain:
On 01/31/15 at approx. 2359 hours officers were dispatched to a report of a burglary alarm at Columbia Elementary, located at 1015 S. Trinity in Southwest Fresno. Officer Brandon Lyon and Officer Ruben Barron arrived at the location and observed a male subject on the campus. As the officers were approaching, the male subject broke a window to one of the portable classrooms and climbed through into the classroom. Officers Lyon and Barron were able to coordinate other officers around the school to prevent the suspect from escaping. K-9 Officer Tharen Higginbotham and his partner Laci responded to the school to assist.
After officers announced their presence and instructed the suspect to exit the classroom, the male suspect jumped out of the window and attempted to flee. The suspect, who was identified as Jose Cerna-Manzo (age 21) was taken into custody at the scene. Cerna-Manzo was found to have oustanding warrants for his arrest for burglary. Two of the classrooms at the school had been broken into and one of the rooms had been ransacked for electronic items. Officers were able to recover all of the property that Cerna-Manzo had attempted to take from the classrooms, including laptops and other electronic items. Cerna-Manzo was booked into the Fresno County Jail on open charges as well as the outstanding warrants.
I am grateful to the police and their diligence in catching this criminal before he got away with the school’s computers and other devices. A broken window and disheveled classroom will be bad enough. Hopefully, Fresno Unified will have workers there today getting things fixed and returned to normal for when the students return on Tuesday. Monday is a non-pupil day so there will be the extra time to make things right.
As I have previously written, the students have jumbled lives and the school is a safe haven for them. To think of someone invading that safe space and taking their tools for learning really makes me angry. However, I am also wondering how this 21 year old has such a messed up life at such a young age. What could we have done differently for him to turn out differently?
Have any of my dear readers been following Humans of New York and the school in Brownsville that has been recently featured? Another troubled neighborhood. Another inner city school. Another staff trying to make things better. By shining the light on one student and the principal things have changed. Donations have poured in for the students to take a field trip to Harvard University each year. Enough money has been raised for the next 10 years. Additional money has poured in, enough to provide scholarships to students at the school. People do care about what happens in these schools. We just need to be more aware of what is happening in our own neighborhood schools and do our part to help out.