Security to increase around future Spooky Nook site after vandalism, BB gun reports

Security will be increased around the former Champion Paper mill’s office building in Hamilton, which comes after a recent vandalism incident and multiple reports of vehicles hit with pellet or BB gun shots.

Gordon Friend of Jacksonburg said he was stopped at a red light on North B Street around 1:10 a.m. Saturday when he heard “pat, pat, pat, pat” — something hitting the front of his Ford F-250 pickup truck.

Someone was shooting a pellet or BB gun at the truck from the roof of the former Champion Paper mill’s office building to his left, he said. The Champion site is about to be transformed into the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center.

MORE: Groundbreaking held for “transformational” Spooky Nook project

“At first I thought it was hail, or something like that,” said Friend, 36. “I’m like, ‘It’s not hailing outside.’”

Instead, someone was shooting, he said. Friend saw someone on the roof of the former office building that recently had several windows broken. That came after an anonymous person last week offered a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest for the vandalism.

Friend wasn’t the only one whose vehicle received gunfire. Another person posted on Facebook a photo of a vehicle with its drivers’ side front window shot out.

“Coming off Black st bridge last night someone hiding in the old building shot our window out while we were at the red light,” the other person wrote.

City Manager Joshua Smith on Wednesday said city officials spoke with Spooky Nook earlier in the day, and the company has arranged to have a private-security firm work with police “to monitor the site.”

Also, “additional security measures are being added by the developers,” Smith said. “Due to the nature of why those are needed, those measures will not be disclosed. Anyone caught vandalizing the site will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Neither person who said they were affected by the pellet shots called 911. Hamilton police spokesman Sgt. Rich Burkhardt urged people in such situations to call 911 dispatchers so police know what is happening, and can respond to the situation, protecting others from danger.

“If somebody was shooting your car window out, I’d imagine you’d make a police report,” Burkhardt said. “I wouldn’t go on Facebook and tell everybody, and try to get attention for it, without telling police, and we could do something about it.

“I wish they would have called 911 if they saw someone up there. They’re not helping us.”

He said now that police know about the incidents, they can increase patrols around the Champion site, still owned by the city.

ExploreRELATED: A look at Hamilton’s funding sources for Spooky Nook

Friend said he inspected his vehicle when he returned home.

“I got home and saw the little dings,” that are a bit bigger than when a rock hits the front of a vehicle, Friend said.

“I used to do renovations, and I always boarded up the windows,” said Friend, who tore down the former Wayne Township School in Jacksonburg.

If the many windows at the Champion mill can’t all be boarded up, “Maybe they should have patrolling security or something,” he said.

ExploreMORE: Spooky Nook to include second-largest convention space in region

Demolition of the Wayne school took two years, but the windows were all boarded, and “Nobody was ever in that school,” he said.

“I know construction well, and I know you don’t leave something like that unattended,” Friend said.

“I get kids will be kids, but you don’t give them opportunities,” he said.

About the Author