Five teenagers charged in vandalism of historic black schoolhouse in Ashburn

Authorities said five teenagers were charged in connection with vandalism at a historic one-room schoolhouse in Ashburn.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said the five male teenagers were three 16-year-olds, a 17-year-old from Sterling and a 16-year-old from Ashburn. Authorities did not release their names because they are minors. 

Police had identified the teens earlier this month after the historic black schoolhouse was vandalized with spray paint, but officials announced the charges against them this week. Each was charged with felony destruction of property, among other offenses.

The vandalism at the Ashburn Colored School was found Oct. 1. The building had been painted with vulgar messages and other offensive words and symbols, including “white power” and swastikas, authorities said. But the sheriff’s office said in a statement that “a review of the investigation with the Office of the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney determined the case did not meet the legal requirements for a hate crime.”

The school has a long history. It opened its doors to the county’s African American students, who were banned from attending school with whites, in 1892 and stayed open until the late 1950s.

Students from the Loudoun School for the Gifted had begun a restoration of the building before the vandalism. After the building was defaced, the community rallied and raised funds for repairs.

The sheriff’s office had offered a $2,000 reward for tips leading to the identification of suspects and enlisted the help of the FBI. Officials said information from the community helped identify the suspects.

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