Those responsible for the break-in and vandalism at Bangs High School will be facing severe punishment if apprehended and convicted, Bangs Police Chief Ricky Minica said Tuesday.

“The charges will include arson, burglary and criminal mischief,” Minica said.

The arson and criminal mischief charges will both be classified as first-degree felonies.

“The criminal mischief (charge) will be first-degree because of the extent of the damage,” Minica said.

Minica addressed Bangs students at an assembly Tuesday, the first day of class since the vandalism was discovered Sunday afternoon.

“I talked to the kids and wanted them to understand the severity of the situation,” Minica said. “I also let them know that I truly believe this act was not perpetrated by students from Early.”

Minica said the Bangs Police Department is following several leads and looking into possible suspects involved.

Earlier in the week, a rumor circulated that Early students were responsible for the vandalism to retaliate for the Dragons’ two-point victory over the Longhorns last Friday.

A total reward of $4,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible. Private contributions of $2,000 have been offered, while the Brown County Crime Stoppers is offering $2,000.

R.C. Owens, coordinator for Brown County Crime Stoppers emphasized the seriousness of the vandalism in a statement sent to the Bulletin.

“This was not a childish prank, it was a crime,” Owens said. “It was a crime that impacts all citizens of Brown County, not just the residents of Bangs. It was an attack on a learning institution in our county. The school had to be closed so the damage could be repaired and the mess cleaned up. The students of Bangs schools missed a day of learning because of this senseless act. The other districts in Brown County will have to be on alert to ensure their schools are not the next target. The taxpayers will directly or indirectly pay for the damages.

“The perpetrators of this crime are criminals. They are no better than drug dealers that infest our communities or the burglar who breaks into the corner store. They do not deserve the protection of honest citizens or should not be able to hide behind the silence of those with knowledge of this crime.”

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of those involved is asked to contact a local law enforcement agency or the Brown County Sheriff’s Department. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call the Brown County Crime Stoppers tip line at (325) 646-TIPS.