Four Wakefield High School seniors were charged with trespassing and damage to property after a teddy bear was hung from a noose from the North Raleigh school’s roof and the athletic fields were vandalized.
Raleigh police said the following students received criminal summonses this week for first-degree trespassing, damage to real property and damage to personal property: Romir Seth, 17; Zachary Reagan Holt, 18 and Kai Gabriel Birdsall, 18. Maxwell Alasdair Birdsall, 18, has been charged with first-degree trespassing and damage to personal property.
All four Raleigh teenagers were charged with misdemeanors in connection with the May 30 incident, said Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan.
The teens are seniors at Wakefield, according to Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman.
School officials have previously said an investigation determined that four Wakefield students hung both the teddy bear, dressed as Santa Claus, and a sign saying “Make Wakefield Tripp again #smartlunch.”
The sign apparently referred to some students’ desire for former principal Tripp Crayton to return. Malik Bazzell, who is black, replaced Crayton, who is white, as principal in 2015.
In addition, school officials said the metal covering for the football stadium concession stand was damaged and windows were broken on a booth at the baseball field.
School officials have said four students face disciplinary action as a result of the incident. But the district has declined to give specifics on the punishment or name the students, citing federal student privacy laws.
The incident drew concern from African-American students and staff, with some calling it a “hate crime.”
Police records show Seth is Asian and Holt and the Birdsalls are white.
Bazzell and Wake school leaders both denounced the incident. Bazzell also said that while the incident might have been intended to be a senior prank that “it is in no way funny.”
“Let me be clear: This was an offensive act that has no place in our school,” Bazzell said in the statement sent May 30 to Wakefield families. “The imagery is deeply offensive and everyone in our school community should be appalled.”