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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Sheriff’s helicopter catches teens on roof of University High School

Deputies used a helicopter and night-vision technology to catch two 17-year-old boys on the roof of University High School in Spokane Valley.

The pair triggered a burglar alarm just before 1 a.m. Sunday, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was on scene within minutes, Deputy Mark Gregory said. It had been on patrol a few miles away.

“That’s what’s awesome about that thing,” Gregory said. “One, it can see at night. Two, it can get places really fast.”

Using an infrared camera, deputies in the helicopter spotted two cars parked on the east side of the building, and the heat signature suggested they had been driven recently, Gregory said.

Deputies then spotted one suspect lying on the roof. Realizing he had been seen, the teen climbed down and was arrested on the ground, Gregory said. The second teen was found hiding near some trash bins on the south side of the school.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, one teen admitted to entering the school through a hatch on the roof and was charged with second-degree burglary, a felony. The other said he didn’t set foot in the building; he was charged with second-degree trespassing, a misdemeanor.

Gregory said the teens’ actions were “probably more mischievous than criminal.” But the deputies didn’t know that when they arrived at the school. Praising the use of the helicopter, Gregory noted there were many potential hiding places for someone looking to ambush law enforcement officers.

“When you’re searching a huge area such as a school, it’s a big thing,” he said. “If the airship wasn’t in the air, I don’t know if we would have gotten up on the roof and started searching. We would have never found that guy.”

Marla Nunberg Genther, a spokeswoman for the Central Valley School District, said there doesn’t appear to be any damage to the building.

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