PONTIAC (WWJ) – Two young men who are self-described “urban explorers” are now facing criminal charges after they were caught on the roof of an abandoned school.
Police say a 21-year-old from Eastpointe and 17-year-old from Macomb Township were arrested around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after they broke into the former Jefferson Whittier School Building on Motor Street in Pontiac.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office was first alerted to the break-in at the school, which has been closed for years and is now owned by a private party, after multiple interior alarms were tripped. Deputies arrived at the school and located a broken window where it appeared someone had made entry. Additionally, a nearby resident called and reported a suspicious vehicle parked nearby on Alton Street. Foot prints in the snow led from the vehicle to the broken window at the school building, according to police.
As deputies were establishing a perimeter around the school, they saw people inside the building with flashlights. Deputies, along with a responding K-9 unit, entered the building through the broken window in an attempt to locate the suspects.
While inside the building, deputies were advised by units on the perimeter that two people were observed on the rooftop. Deputies cleared the lower levels of the school and worked their way to an unsecured roof access hatch. Upon making entry onto the roof, both suspects were located and taken into custody without incident. Also recovered as a backpack with another flashlight and a pair of walkie-talkies.
During the initial investigation, both suspects indicated they were explorers of abandoned buildings. One of the young men had even written his Instagram username on a blackboard in the school and admitted to breaking the window to gain access. The suspects told police that none of their photos from inside the school had yet been posted to their social media accounts.
The vehicle parked on Alton Street was determined to belong the suspect from Eastpointe and was impounded.
Both suspects were subsequently transported to and lodged in the Oakland County Jail, pending charges of breaking and entering and trespassing.