A local man faces felony charges after police say he broke into and vandalized the Allen Street campus on March 26 and possibly smashed 18 school windows .
Steven Tanner, 21, of Rutland, was arraigned March 28 in Rutland Criminal Court on one count of burglary and unlawful mischief resulting in more than $1,000 in damages. He was also charged with one count of violating court-ordered release conditions and one count of setting off a fire alarm without cause.
Tanner pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on conditions, including being ordered not to attend the Allen Street campus, formerly known as Success School.
According to the Rutland City Public Schools website, the Allen Street Campus is a collaboration between the school system and Rutland Mental Health Services that helps students “develop the emotional regulation skills to succeed in school.” and in the community” and to “help…students learn new skills to replace their verbal and physical dysregulation.
The charges against Tanner are based on affidavits written by Officers Daniel Blanchard Jr. and Cpl. Elizha Heter. Blanchard said police responded to an alarm in Allen Street on March 26. Heter said the alarm was reported around 12:30 a.m.
Blanchard said he noticed a shattered window, but then saw that other windows had also been shattered. He said that at the back of the school he saw a window that had not only been broken but opened.
Heter described the damage as “every window in the front of the school”.
Blanchard said he believed someone entered through that window because he could see there were rooms in the school that were in “disarray”. He said he also noticed a fire alarm going off, and he and Heter heard someone who appeared to be screaming.
Heter added that it sounded like the person was shouting, “(Obscenity) you.”
According to Heter’s affidavit, a staff member came to the school because an alarm had gone off, but that person discovered that a fire alarm had also been activated and could only be deactivated by members of the Rutland City Fire Department. A firefighter later told police he believed the fire alarm had been deliberately activated, although there was no sign of a fire at the school.
Blanchard said Tanner was located by a Rutland County Sheriff’s Department deputy and a Vermont State Police trooper.
After Tanner was taken into custody, he reportedly admitted to being a “little tipsy”. Heter administered a breath test which indicated that Tanner’s blood alcohol level was 0.118%. The legal limit for driving in Vermont is 0.08%.
At the time, Tanner was under a court order, issued in September, that said he could not buy, possess or drink alcohol.
Both affidavits noted that Tanner was carrying a blue Russell Athletics backpack containing a white sweatshirt inside. Police were notified while Tanner was being treated, school surveillance footage showed the person who broke in was wearing a white sweatshirt and carrying a blue Russell Athletics backpack.
Blanchard said he printed out stills of the surveillance footage before interviewing Tanner. He said Tanner originally said he did not go to the Allen Street campus that night. His hands had cuts, but Tanner told police he fought with his fists and that was how his hands were injured.
However, Blanchard said Tanner changed his story after seeing the photos taken from the surveillance footage.
“Never mind. I (the obscenity) did it. You have your confession,” Tanner said, according to the affidavit.
Tanner reportedly told police he committed the crimes because he “hated his life and was angry”.
Police said Tanner told them he used rocks outside the school to smash the windows.
Blanchard said he noted damage to items inside the school included televisions, desks and chairs. He estimated the damage at over $1,000.
Heter said Tanner expressed reluctance to allow police to search his backpack. She said she asked him why and he said he didn’t want the police to “take his weed”. Heter said the police told him the marijuana was legal and they wouldn’t take his marijuana or his bong, after which he allowed the police to look in the backpack and take the white sweatshirt as evidence.
Rob Bliss, assistant superintendent of Rutland City Public Schools, said maintenance crews worked quickly over the weekend to get the school ready to open as usual on March 28 so students don’t miss out. no class time. He said the school district does not yet have an estimate of the full value of the damage caused by the incident.
If found guilty on all charges, Tanner could face up to 21 years in prison.