NEWS

Undefeated wrestling season threatened, literally

Eric Tsetsi

The Winchester High School wrestling team has been targeted in what may be an attempt to disrupt yet another undefeated season for the crew of grapplers.

Through the past two weeks, several criminal incidents have occurred at the high school, as well as at the residences of wrestling team members.

One of the incidents, detailed in a press release by Police Chief Kenneth Albertelli regarding the ongoing criminal investigation, was a bomb threat discovered in the boy’s bathroom at the school Jan. 15.

Although high school principal Thomas Gwin was unsure whether the bomb threat is part of the pattern of incidents that have taken place targeting the wrestling team, he did say in a recent telephone interview, “We think that the other incidents are connected.”

The first police report was made at about 10 a.m. on Jan. 4 after a high school student found several pieces of wrestling equipment and clothing worth more than $2,700 destroyed and placed in a pile in the wrestling team’s locker room, according to Albertelli.

Eight days later, on Jan. 12, high school athletic director Thomas Murray contacted student resource Officer Daniel Perenick and informed him about an e-mail several members of the wrestling crew and their parents received stating that a scheduled wrestling meet was cancelled due to “technical problems” at the school.

“It appears the intent was for team members not to make this important meet,” wrote Albertelli. “Due to the serious damage that was done at the high school on Jan. 4, the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Cyber Unit was called in to assist with the investigation.”

The bomb threat, which was reported nearly two weeks later, on Jan 15, stated simply, “Bomb this week.” The words were scrawled on a boy’s bathroom wall.

Perenick, who in addition to being the school’s resource officer is commander of the regional School Threat Assessment Response Systems (STAR) team, determined the threat was “low level.”

The school subsequently sent memos to teachers regarding the incident, which was read to students in class. Parents and guardians were informed of the incident through e-mail.

“Any type of bomb threat is not only a serious school offense, but also a very serious felony not tolerated in the court system,” said Gwin in the letter sent to parents.

The most recent incident was reported at about 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 16. According to police, someone slashed the tires of three vehicles parked in the driveway of a residence where a member of the wrestling team lives.

Later in the same day, police responded to a call for vandalism to a mailbox at another wrestler’s residence. According to Albertelli’s press release, an accelerant, possibly gasoline, was used to light the mailbox on fire.

At both scenes, notes were left stating there was no intention to harm anyone, but the wrestling program must stop or “further action will be taken,” according to police.

The Sachem wrestling crew is on a 14-0 win-streak this year, after an undefeated season last year.

Thomas Murray, the high school athletic director, could not be reached for comment for this story.

Gwin, however, stated the investigation is ongoing and the wrestling program is continuing to function normally, although with increased security.

“The wrestling team is trying to keep it in perspective,” said Gwin.

Several increased security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of the wrestling team, according to Gwin.

Some of the measures include the presence of safety officials at wrestling meets, a campus aide is present at all wrestling practices and all the locks in the locker room have been changed.

There are still no suspects in the case, according to Gwin. The investigation is ongoing.

Eric Tsetsi can be reached at 781-674-7731 or etsetsi@cnc.com.