NORTH KINGSTOWN—The suspect observed breaking into Davisville Middle School last week was apprehended this past Friday after days of investigation by the North Kingstown Police Department. Joseph Scott Howell, 27, of 116 West Allenton Road, North Kingstown, was arrested after he was positively identified with surveillance cameras.
“We received several tips which led investigators to Mr. Howell, and one tip was an image of [him] wearing the shirt in question on the video,” said Lieutenant Christopher Emerson of the NKPD’s Detective Unit. “Based on that information, in addition to other information during the investigation, an arrest warrant was drafted and signed.”
In the early morning hours of Monday, May 13, Howell was seen breaking into Davisville Middle School with a towel wrapped around his face and carrying a bolt-cutter in his hand. He then proceeded to damage school equipment and property.
Superintendent of Schools Philip Auger stated that no estimate as of yet to the dollar amount of damage has been made.
“I know there were some broken windows and doors the person tried to enter,” said Auger. “There was a piece of equipment from the wood shop that got broken, just little things around the building. He certainly walked around a little bit, but didn’t look like anything was stolen, but we are not certain of that.”
“We are working on it with our insurance adjustor, and the police are looking into it because they want [Howell] to pay restitution, which we certainly appreciate,” he added.
Both Auger and NKPD has emphasized that Howell did not target the school specifically, including any students or teachers, through his actions.
“We have rectified the situation,” said Auger. “There have been past concerns about break-ins, which is why we put cameras in place and was a big part in finding this guy. Hopefully, this will act as a deterrent in the future because [trespassers] will be subject to video surveillance.”
“We received a great deal of calls from concerned parents and wanted to put it out there that no one’s safety was compromised, and [the incident] wasn’t targeted,” said Emerson. “This is not a common occurrence in North Kingstown and school facilities are regularly patrolled by officers doing routine building checks.”
“[Howell] was intoxicated walking by and it was a crime of opportunity,” he added.
Howell was arraigned in Third District Court before Judge Pamela Woodcock-Pfeiffer on Thursday, May 16 on one felony count of breaking and entering, as well as one count of vandalism. He is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial screening on June 18.
The 27-year old has a past of similar incidents, having been arrested in February 2008 on a charge of vandalism by the Cranston Police Department and subsequently pleading no contest. He also pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge, issued by the Coventry Police Department, in May 2009.