Teen trashes convention center

A teen vandal is accused of wreaking havoc on the Pendleton Convention Center on Tuesday night, causing at least $10,000 in damages.

Pendleton police arrested a 13-year-old boy Tuesday night for smashing into the city’s convention center and causing at least $10,000 in damages. The teen faces multiple charges.

Pendleton Police Lt. Charles Byram in a written statement said alarms went off at 11:44 p.m. at the Pendleton Convention Center, 1601 Westgate. Police arrived three minutes later, he said, and “found substantial damage to the exterior of the building.”

Officers encountered a “well-known” 13-year-old boy in front of the building and detained him, according to Byram, before officers entered the convention center. Inside, he said, they found more damage.

Pat Beard, the convention center manager, said the teen threw a cement planter through the front window to gain access, and once inside used a coat rack to break 12-15 more windows.

“We just purchased two 80-inch big screen TVs and he smashed both of those,” Beard said.

According to Beard, the boy broke into and ransacked meeting rooms, damaged the main hall that was set up for a trade show, set off fire extinguishers and sprayed a disinfectant on some items, including a painting.

Beard described the teen’s actions as “just random destruction” and said it will take plenty of working hours to get the place back to normal. He estimated the damage could exceed $10,000.

City facilities workers replaced broken light bulbs and a glass company also responded to deal with the windows.

Byram said police learned the boy had been in the custody of the Oregon Department of Human Services but ran away from the motel room in Hermiston where two DHS employees were supervising him. He took a shuttle bus from Hermiston to Pendleton.

Byram explained that laws prohibit DHS employees from physically restraining juveniles in their custody, and they reported the boy as a runaway to the Hermiston Police Department.

Pendleton officers booked the boy into the juvenile detention facility in Walla Walla for second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal trespass. During his arraignment Wednesday afternoon via video at the Umatilla County Courthouse, Pendleton, the boy was a no-show.

Circuit Judge Lynn Hampton asked staff at the facility what could happen if she compelled the teen to stand before the camera. Staff said the boy tends to spiral out of control when forced to do what he does not want.

Christy Kenny, with the county’s juvenile department, agreed it would not help to force the boy to participate in the arraignment. She also said the boy has another case that is about to close and could send him to an Oregon Youth Authority site. She and deputy district attorney Micah Johnstone told the court there is evidence in the new case to hold him in custody.

Hampton agreed to keep him in Walla Walla.

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