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Vandalism suspect pleads guilty in Mount Shasta City Park case

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
The Mount Shasta City Park Dance Hall was broken into sometime between 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, and 5:30 a.m. July 2. The suspect caused thousands of dollars of damage to the historic building, which was built as in the 1930s as California State University, Chico's summer campus for the teacher's college.

A man who broke into a historic building at Mount Shasta City Park in July and in a frenzy of destruction caused an estimated $150,000 worth of damage pled guilty Tuesday to felony vandalism and resisting an officer.

Stephen Bouw

Stephen Bouw, 48, was not offered a plea bargain or any guarantees about his sentence, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.

Bouw has been incarcerated at the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka since July 2.

“There was not much doubt that he committed the crime,” Andrus said.

As far as restitution, Andrus said the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District doesn’t have an exact figure for what they’ll need to pay out of pocket. They’re waiting for the outcome of their insurance claim.

“We would ideally get the figure set by the time of the sentencing hearing,” Andrus said.

The Mount Shasta City Park Dance Hall was broken into sometime between 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, and 5:30 a.m. July 2. The suspect caused thousands of dollars of damage to the historic building, which was built as in the 1930s as California State University, Chico's summer campus for the teacher's college.

He added that his office will seek the maximum sentence, which is three years and eight months in county jail. However, Bouw will likely get time served, and could get time shaved off his sentence if he qualifies for good behavior credit.

Andrus said Bouw had been previously arrested on Feb. 26 on a misdemeanor charge for trespassing at the Mount Shasta City Park. Bouw was selling items like crystals, books, and wood without a permit and became hostile when asked to leave. He verbally threatened staff and was arrested, Andrus said.

Sometime between 10:30 p.m. on July 1 and 5:30 a.m. on July 2, Bouw broke into the Dance Hall building, which had just been renovated. 

When MSRPD maintenance manager John Zanni arrived at work that morning, he heard commotion near the Dance Hall. After deciding against confronting Bouw himself, Zanni  called police, and when a Mount Shasta Police Department officer arrived, Bouw was outside the building yelling and screaming, “claiming he was going to burn everything down and that everyone was going to die,” said MSPD Lieutenant Joe Restine.

The MSPD, with the help of the California Highway Patrol, formed a perimeter around the building and retreated, as “it was clear that (Bouw) was having a mental health crisis,” Restine said.

Photo gallery::Mount Shasta City Park's Historic Dance Hall damage

MSPD requested assistance from Weed Police Department and Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Special Response Team and considered summoning Shasta County’s SWAT team if the situation escalated, said Restine. However, when Bouw went inside a closet and resumed his work to pull up the floorboards, “the team saw an opportunity to take him into custody safely.”

A taser was deployed and Bouw was arrested and taken to Mercy Mt. Shasta to be cleared before booking,  Restine said.

Damage to the building included dozens of shattered windows – which were original, single pane glass – and paint splattered on floors and walls. A section of original hardwood flooring was splintered and pulled up. The building’s storage areas were ransacked and some of the kitchen cupboards had their doors pried off, among other damage.

The incident put a halt to the district’s plan to reopen the building that day. It is regularly used by Shasta Taiko, for ballroom dancing lessons and Ecstatic Dance, as well as for weddings, parties and other community uses.