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Shards Found at Playground

Safety: School discovery has Huntington Beach police considering a copycat scenario.

July 12, 2002|VIVIAN LETRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A copycat may be to blame for glass shards found this week at a Huntington Beach school playground, police said Thursday.

Several large pieces of glass were found Tuesday buried in sand at the private Pegasus School on Lexington Lane. Although they did not rule out the possibility of an accident, police said the glass appeared to have been placed intentionally.

The discovery is similar to other incidents in which sharp objects were found at several South County parks and playgrounds in the spring. Those incidents ended after authorities on June 4 arrested a 21-year-old Mission Viejo woman, Lori Fischer, on suspicion of planting razor blades and nails around playground equipment.

"This is unexpected," said Laura S. Hathaway, founder and head of Pegasus School. "I thought that this problem was over."

The school, for preschoolers through eighth-graders, is in a residential tract between a cul-de-sac and public park. About 200 students are enrolled in summer classes.

Hathaway said a student spotted one piece of brown glass Tuesday morning and reported it to a teacher's assistant. School officials searched the playground and turned up more shards, each 3 to 4 inches long, around a jungle gym. Hathaway said school officials also found part of a beer bottle, suggesting casual littering by a passerby, but said the fragments appeared to have been deliberately placed in the sand.

The pieces were then discarded. Police were not notified until Wednesday. School officials also mailed hundreds of letters to parents, informing them.

Police have warned other schools to inspect their playgrounds.

Police said they will expand routine helicopter patrols to include parks and schools, and heat-sensitive infrared imaging will help them spot any perpetrators.

"We'll be aggressively investigating every incident we see in the parks or the school grounds," said Lt. Lloyd Edwards, patrol watch commander for Huntington Beach police. Investigators said the latest incident could be the work of a copycat.

"You have someone who for some reason wants to deliberately hurt young kids in the school grounds or park areas using sharp objects," said Lt. Ron Burgess. "We're hoping someone knows ... who did this and can provide us with more information."

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