On Saturday afternoon, Sowams School Principal Jim Callahan was all smiles as his school celebrated its annual Octoberfest under beautiful blue skies.
A day later, the long-time administrator was completely surprised to see that someone had needlessly smashed the hand-painted sign that graced the school’s front lawn.
“The PTO had purchased that sign … it was beautiful,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s covered by insurance.”
Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said the cost to repair or replace the sign won’t come from taxpayers or the school PTO. He said 32-year-old Kip D. Eaton will have to pay for it.
Police arrested Mr. Eaton, who lives at 341 Sowams Road (a short walk away from Sowams School), on Sunday, shortly after officers were alerted to the broken sign. They charged the local man with two counts of vandalism-malicious injury to property and one count of receiving stolen goods.
According to the police report, officers responded to Mr. Eaton’s residence at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday morning, Oct. 20, for a noise complaint, and upon arrival noticed that he was burning items in a fire pit in his back yard.
They told Mr. Eaton that he could not have an open fire at his residence, and made sure he extinguished the fire. Then they left.
On Sunday morning, residents called police after noticing that someone had smashed the Sowams School sign. Officers responded to the school and spoke to the principal, Mr. Callahan. A neighbor to the school had reportedly heard a noise in that area just before 3 a.m.
Officers decided to make a visit to Mr. Eaton’s home and allegedly found a portion of the school sign burning in the fire pit behind the resident’s home. They then arrested Mr. Eaton and transported him to the station for booking.
While he was inside a holding cell at the station, Mr. Eaton reportedly urinated three times on the floor and threw water at the closed circuit camera.
“We’re going to ask for full restitution for the sign and for the clean-up of the cell,” Chief LaCross.
The estimated cost of the sign is $1,500 and cleaning costs are about $200.