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Charges filed against Harrison City man in school break-in, vandalism

| Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009

A Harrison City man broke into Penn Middle School early Wednesday morning and damaged about 30 computers, police said.

But he told police he has no memory of the vandalism.

Michael N. Smarra, 24, was charged Wednesday with burglary, criminal trespass, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief. He was sent to Westmoreland County Prison after an arraignment before Penn Township District Judge Helen Kistler, who set bond at $50,000.

Police were called to the school in the Penn-Trafford School District shortly before 2:15 a.m., according to a criminal complaint filed by Penn Township police.

Police spotted Smarra in a stairwell and told all custodians to leave the building, it said. The suspect allegedly left through the front entrance and was tracked down to a swampy area in nearby woods.

Entry was made by smashing a door window at the southwest corner of the school. Police followed a blood trail through the hallway into a computer room, where Apple computers were damaged. Damage was estimated at more than $5,000.

Smarra broke numerous windows along the front of the school and damaged a custodian's Toyota sedan, the complaint alleges. That damage was estimated at $500.

That custodian identified Smarra, who could be seen on a video camera, according to the complaint.

Smarra told police he went to Club House Bar at about 8 p.m. Tuesday and stayed until his friends left him there at about midnight. He began to walk home and remembered seeing a school and running through the woods when the police got him, police said. Smarra told police he was never in the school and only remembered running through the woods.

A preliminary hearing will be held Tuesday before Kistler.

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