SPANAWAY, Wash. — The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday detectives have arrested the suspect in the theft of five surveillance cameras worth about $22,000 from Shining Mountain Elementary School in Spanaway.
“When the guy took the cameras, they’re (the school students) without some protections that they need to have and we want them to have,” said Pierce County sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer on Monday.
Troyer confirmed Tuesday that the suspect, identified as Willie Justin Cantrell, has been arrested. Troyer said detectives received numerous tips after the story aired on Q13 News Monday night.
Investigators also believe the same suspect struck again just across the street, stealing a surveillance camera worth about $2,000 off the back of the Bethel Learning Center building. Investigators believe the suspect used some sort of object, possibly a rope, to loop up over the cameras and pull them off the side of the building.
“It makes me sad that we’re entrusted with taxpayer money, school funding is constantly a problem, and somebody comes along and just takes money right off the wall that we were using to protect the kids,” says Doug Boyles with the Bethel School District.
School officials plan to secure new surveillance cameras in place, using metal plates, so they can’t be torn down off the building.
“I feel really safe for my kids with the school, whether or not there’s security cameras; obviously, it helps. I think it’s an added step to help, but it’d be nice to get those back,” says father Garry Snyder.
For now, all that’s left behind are wires dangling from where the cameras used to be outside the school building. School officials say they did order new surveillance cameras and they hope to have them here and installed any day.
Troyer said late Monday night that investigators have identified the suspect following tips from the news coverage, but he is not in custody yet.
If you have any information on this suspect, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.