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School Break In

An elementary school teacher decided to go to her classroom one Saturday afternoon to do some work. She parked out front and opened the front door to the school. When she went into the building she heard some noises and saw a broken window in the office door. She left the building and called the Sheriff's Department.

I had come out a little early for my shift and I responded along with an officer from the off going day shift. We met the frightened teacher, down the street from the school. We got her keys to the school and proceeded to the building.

I unlocked the front door and we entered. There was a hall running straight ahead of us and one running at a right angle to our left. The school office was at the inside corner of the halls intersection, straight ahead and to our left. We both pulled our revolvers and approached the office door. We searched the office and found it had been ransacked but no one was there now.

We heard noise farther down the hall. The way the school was made there were two hallways that ran the whole length of the school with classrooms to their outsides and classrooms between them. The sounds seemed to be coming from the rooms that were between the two hallways. I sent the other officer down the hallway we were in and I ran around to the opposite hall.

I approached the noise as quickly but as quietly as I could. I came to the library which had double doors that entered both halls. The top half of both doors was glass. I saw two teenagers in the room, which had been vandalized. I was squatting so that I could just look into the window. Both vandals were looking at the door to the opposite hallway. They must have heard the other officer approaching. I reached up with my left hand and pushed on the doors but they were still locked.

I ducked as the two turned toward the door I was at. They came over and tried to open the door. When they did this I jumped to my feet and put the barrel of my .357 magnum against the glass half an inch from the face of the one closest to me. At the same time I yelled, "You are under arrest!" as loud as I could. They both froze and I called for the other officer, who then came into the library and covered them while I came around. We handcuffed them, searched them and took them out to the patrol car.

One turned out to be an 18-year old and the other one was a 17-year old. They had vandalized the school just to have something to do.

Ralph L. Dettwiler
(Former) Sergeant
Beaufort County Sheriff's Department
Beaufort, South Carolina

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