Colonie police nab alleged bus vandals

Colonie police announced Thursday, June 19, the arrests of two individuals who are being charged with vandalizing a number of South Colonie Central School District buses resulting in the cancellation of classes Friday, June 13.

Eric LaClair, 17, of Colonie, and Thomas Hope, 18, whose address was listed as homeless, two Colonie Central High School seniors, were arrested Wednesday, June 18, and are being charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, criminal trespassing and criminal tampering, both misdemeanors.

According to the police report, LaClair and Hope scaled the fence of the South Colonie School District bus garage, at 2 Winston Place, Colonie, and entered 38 out of 80 buses, setting off fire extinguishers and causing the buses to be inoperable.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Marcelle said Monday, June 16, that the district was forced to hire an outside cleaning service over the weekend to restore the buses. The superintendent later said that the damage cost the district "tens of thousands" of dollars to repair.

Several events districtwide were cancelled Friday, June 13, as a result of the vandalism, including the sixth-grade architecture field trip to Albany and two elementary school field days.

At a press conference held Thursday, June 19, Marcelle confirmed that LaClair and Hope "are two of our students and two of our senior class members."

Marcelle would not comment on whether the students would be allowed to graduate, but did say the students would be suspended, and a superintendent's hearing will be held sometime next week.

Shilo Swears, spokeswoman for the Albany County Correctional Facility, said on June 13 that "both inmates denied media requests." Several attempts to reach the parents of the young men were unsuccessful.

Lt. John VanAlstyne, a detective with the Colonie Police Department, who also attended Thursday's press conference, said that police were led to Hope and LaClair through tips from many students.

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