Police investigating after Niagara motel 22-room rampage
Published Wednesday, December 14, 2011 6:47PM EST
Niagara police are investigating after a group of teenagers trashed 22 rooms in a Niagara Falls motel, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Avenue Inn Motel manager Robert Forget said 22 of the rooms were trashed after 8 p.m. Friday night, with used condoms, beer bottles and broken glass strewn throughout the rooms.
The damage is estimated to be between $50,000 and $100,000.
Niagara Regional Police Const. Sal Basilone said that it's still too early to determine whether police will press charges, but officers are working to identify who was involved and how many students were at the motel.
"The investigative unit is looking at the entire picture here," Basilone told CTV Toronto on Wednesday. "They're looking at it from the perspective of the room rentals, who was involved there and to any potential criminality based on what they find in terms of evidence.
Police said that hundreds of people were potentially involved in the ransacking. About 150 students from Notre Dame College School in Welland, Ont., rented rooms and dozens of other students showed up.
Harry Liu, the motel owner's son, said that a group of Grade 12 students had rented out 35 rooms at the motel for a place to go after a semiformal dance. He said that he had an agreement with the students and didn't ask for their credit cards.
Liu says that now his family is struggling to move forward and he and his father David are seeking out a lawyer and thinking of going to small claims court.
"I was kind of, you know, helpless," he said. "I thought police would help us to push this forward."
Earlier reports had suggested that police were not involved in the investigation and were instead calling it a civil matter.
However, Basilone said that police are working with the owner and officers had asked the students to leave the motel Friday night.
The Niagara Catholic District School Board is also co-operating with police, said John Crocco, director of education.
Although 22 rooms were destroyed, Crocco blamed "the actions of a very few."
"This was irresponsible and malicious behaviour," he said.
Though Liu's family hasn't decided on a course of action yet, he said they'll do "whatever we have to do in getting a lawyer to help us."
For now, the Avenue Inn remains in a state of disrepair with gaping holes in its drywall, destroyed furniture, smashed sinks and a bed that appears to have been urinated on.
What's worse, said Liu, is that the students haven't shown any remorse.
Some students have posted photos of the rooms being demolished on Facebook with comments like "Notre Dame Demolition Crew" and "I like what you've done with the place."
Liu said the Facebook photos lead him to believe that the rampage wasn't spontaneous.
"They were comparing what they did with last year," he said. "They think last year was better than this year."
Liu said he's been trying to reach officials and students at Notre Dame College School but his calls haven't been returned yet.
In a statement to CTV's Canada AM, school principal Ralph DeFazio said he's saddened by the motel rampage.
"I'm making a plea to our students and our community that if they have any information regarding the damage or vandalism to bring it to our attention," the note read.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Michelle Dube