A rivalry between two Jackson County high schools led to vandalism and property damage in both communities Friday.
Four vehicles in a parking lot on the south side of Brownstown Central High School were damaged, and someone painted the railroad underpass on Community Drive near Seymour High School with the words “Go Braves” in red and black, Brownstown’s colors.
There also was an old vehicle parked on the SHS lawn as part of the school’s homecoming activities that was tagged “Go Braves.”
Brownstown School Resource Officer Samuel Hughes said he responded to the initial report of damage to vehicles at the high school at 12:09 p.m. The damage to four vehicles included windows and headlights busted out and dents, and an expletive was spray painted on one of the vehicles, Hughes said.
From eyewitness accounts, police believe there are at least three Seymour students responsible for the damage with the potential for more, Hughes said. Those involved could face felony criminal mischief charges due to the amount of damage caused, he said.
The vandalism of the underpass is considered a criminal offense because it’s illegal to trespass on railroad property.
Seymour’s Bulleit Stadium was the site of this year’s Jackson Bowl, the annual football game between the two schools.
Brownstown football coach Reed May took to social media Friday to express his disappointment in what he called “idiotic behavior.”
“I am asking that the fans from both schools let two high school football teams play a rivalry game without further incidents,” he said. “I have great respect for Coach Kelly, his staff and his players along with the entire Seymour community.”
Seymour Principal Greg Prange also addressed what he said was “immature behavior” by speaking to all students.
“I told them that this retaliation stops now,” he said. “It does not matter who is responsible for the initial action. The proper reaction is not to be a negative reaction. What seems like a harmless prank can end up with people getting hurt or arrested.”
Prange said the actions have nothing to do with the Jackson Bowl or homecoming, which also was Friday at Seymour.
“These are activities we want to continue and support,” he said. “I told them that they needed to represent themselves, their school and their city in a positive manner. If they can’t, then they need to stay home.”
Prange said he had been in contact with Brownstown Principal Joe Sheffer throughout the day.
“We have both apologized to each other for the actions of those who think that they are representing their respective schools,” Prange said. “Unfortunately, poor decisions by some led to poor decisions by others. I pray that everyone learns from this and starts behaving more like civilized fans who can positively support their teams without being disparaging to the opponent.”
Craig Hayes, assistant chief of the Seymour Police Department, said he had been made aware of some of the activities, which he described as juvenile, and the department had assigned additional officers to work Friday night at the Jackson Bowl at Bulleit Stadium.