Man, 23, Arrested In Simi Valley Elementary School Graffiti Case
SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — A 23-year-old Ventura County resident is in jail Tuesday after he admitted to vandalizing a local elementary school.
Stephen A. Lazarus was arrested late Monday night for making terrorist threats following a day-long investigation into graffiti found on the campus of Justin Elementary School, Simi Valley police said.
Police were alerted to the extensive vandalism at the school, located at 2245 North Justin Avenue, around 6:40 a.m. Monday.
When officers arrived on campus, they found swastikas as well as comments that were threatening in nature scrawled in the school’s restrooms, Lt. Joseph May said.
“There were some notes on the walls that did indicate that his intentions were to kill children or staff at the school,” Lt. Stephanie Shannon said.
Due to the threatening nature of the graffiti, school administrators decided to close the campus at noon Monday.
A detective assigned to the case was able to link the graffiti to Lazarus through a police database.
“Mr. Lazarus has history with us here at the Simi Valley Police Department. Details of that history I’m not gonna comment on, but it’s fair to say that we’ve had several contacts with him, albeit none of them related to this type of behavior at Justin Elementary,” Lt. Shannon said.
Further details of how police connected Lazarus to the crime were not released.
Detectives determined the Simi Valley resident acted alone and believe “he did not have the means to carry out any credible threat,” Lt. May said.
Lazarus is being held on $50,000 bond. A motive for the crime was unclear.
Justin Elementary School reopened Tuesday with heightened police presence, Simi Valley Unified School District officials said.