Vandals will regret their acts

The three boys — two 11-year-olds and one 9-year-old — who caused major damage at the East End Ball Field on Oct. 27 presumably will pay a heavy price for plunging into the abyss of criminal behavior.

Their immature, arrogant, stupid, shortsighted, destructive spree targeted at five of the field’s buildings presumably will exact a significant toll on their families, as well.

In both cases, that is as it should be. There must be costly consequences for conduct so despicable — despicable conduct that, in fact, was directed at so many others.

Those others are all of the young people and families that benefit from the opportunities, enjoyment and athletic skill-building that the facility offers.

The vandalism also was directed at all of the people who work to maintain the field and donate their time supervising the activities there.

Also victimized was Altoona as a whole, realizing that such a degree of evil intent exists within this city on the part of individuals so young.

About the only thing positive that can be said is that the break in identifying the vandals was the boys’ parents learning about their sons’ involvement and, commendably and quickly, bringing the juveniles to the Altoona Police Department.

It’s unfortunate but true that some parents, realizing the possible damage-remediation financial impact on them in the end, might have chosen not to be forthcoming, and police might still be trying to identify the vandals.

All of that said, this horrific incident nevertheless ended up reinforcing a positive reality about Altoona and its people. That came through the response of the hundreds of people who showed up on Nov. 3 to clean up and make repairs to the field and to the buildings that the vandals targeted.

As described in a Nov. 1 Mirror article, “The vandals left just about anything that wasn’t bolted down either scattered or broken.”

The damage was estimated initially as between $10,000 and $20,000.

The question that continues to loom is whether — or for what reason — the boys harbored such a hatred for the facility at East Crawford Avenue and Kettle Street that they would become so bent on destroying it. Or another question might be whether they just embraced the morbid notion that their actions were just a source of fun at the expense of others.

The good people who arrived at the field on Nov. 3, plus the businesses and organizations that helped in other ways related to the cleanup, showed what Altoona is really about — what good and what community loyalty exist here.

Altoona leaders should draw up a proclamation of gratitude and praise to honor this extraordinary scope of response to eradicate that destruction that never should have happened.

Meanwhile, parents who have been following news accounts of what occurred on Oct. 27 — what one local resident rightly described as a “travesty” — would do well to discuss with their children the incident and the possible penalties that might be forthcoming for the three boys involved.

Initially, the three boys obviously didn’t comprehend fully the possible consequences of that on which they embarked; now they’ve begun to achieve that understanding.

That understanding won’t come without regret, possibly for the rest of their lives.