On Monday morning — just three days after the massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary — two machetes were discovered on Highland Park High School’s campus.
According to an arrest report, security guards found the two knives hidden near the football stadium, beneath a blue Highland Park hoodie with the number 82 on it. They waited to see if anyone would come retrieve them. The report says Scots wide receiver Kace Allan Coyle, who wears the number 82 on his jersey, came back for the hoodie, leaving the machetes exposed. As he walked back to the school with a friend, the students were intercepted at the back door by an officer who escorted them to the office.
The students were patted down for weapons and interviewed, the report says. Coyle claimed the hoodie and knives, saying that he and some friends had vandalized yard displays the previous night.
He admitted to using the knives to destroy Christmas yard decorations, lopping off the heads of Santa Clauses and reindeers execution-style, said University Park police Capt. Leon Holman.
“He admitted to committing about eight different accounts of vandalism, but so far we’ve only had reports of two,” Holman said. But damaged decorations are the least of the police department’s worries.
“We’re more concerned with the fact that he had the machetes on a school campus than about the vandalism,” Holman said. “Decorations can be replaced.”
Coyle is facing a felony charge of carrying weapons in a place where they are prohibited. He could also be charged with criminal mischief if the decorations’ owners decide to press charges.
Although Holman has seen Christmas vandalism in the Park Cities before, he’s never seen a case quite like this.
“Each year, there are reports of vandalism to holiday decorations,” Holman said. “But this is the first time I’ve seen where someone took a machete and actually decapitated the decorations.”
On Monday afternoon, Highland Park ISD Superintendent Dawson Orr sent a letter informing parents and staff of the morning’s events. The letter confirms the police report, saying that the knives “were never brought into the school building.” Orr says that “appropriate disciplinary measures are being taken on campus and the district is fully cooperating with police,” before assuring parents that student safety is a top priority in HPISD.