Juveniles Vandalize, Start Fire At Tulsa Islamic School
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Fire Department said a building fire at the Tulsa Islamic Center school has been ruled arson.
The fire was reported at 4620 South Irvington, according to a news release from TFD Spokesperson Stan May. An arson investigator was called to the school at 12:36 a.m. Sunday, records show.
The school is connected to the mosque located in a midtown Tulsa neighborhood near 51st and Yale. It is the former Stevenson Elementary School.
The principal, Zaheer Arastu, wouldn't show us all the surveillance video but said the juvenile vandals trashed six classrooms, threw paper and paint down the hall, tried setting the science lab on fire and even broke specimens being preserved in formaldehyde.
The oldest looks about 11 years old.
When they entered the school through a broken window around 10 a.m. on Saturday. They had their shirts pulled over the bottom of their faces in an attempt to hide their identities. Five hours later, the kids finally left, with a path of destruction behind them.
"I work with kids all the time, and I think kids are kids and they make bad choices," Arastu said.
When the community found out about the damage, several people quickly stepped in to clean up. It took them until 4 a.m. to get things in order so Sunday's community festival could go on as planned.
"It is really not out of the ordinary it's how we are, we're a small community, it's like an extended family," Saima Nabasi said. "I don't remember ever even having an issue where this community has not stood for each other."
Arastu said the fact that the kids weren't seriously injured and the school wasn't severely damaged was pure divine intervention. He said he's not angry at the children, but he is shocked to see children that young left unsupervised for so long.
"I feel a little bit of pressure we need to put on parents -- kids are a product of their environment," Arastu said.
Arastu said the school has produced great academics, and this one situation won't change that. He said, for now, he's happy a more sinister group wasn't responsible.