Joe Mamana wasn’t thrilled to hear about explosions on the Wootton grounds when he started the week as acting principal at the school.
But on Monday morning, radio news announced that incendiary devices had been set off at Wootton’s football stadium over the weekend.
Early Monday afternoon, Wootton athletic director Rhett Ross and booster co-president Tom Fechter surveyed the burn damage, most noticeably done to some sponsorship banners that flanked Wootton’s scoreboard. The scoreboard also bore a dent and faint burn marks, and some grass on the field was burned.
“You never like to hear something like this, especially when you hear it on the news and it’s blown out of proportion,” said Mamana.
THE DAMAGE WAS inflicted on the night of Saturday, July 5, according to county fire marshals. .
“From my impression, there were three Molotov cocktails,” said Brian Geraci, assistant fire marshal for Montgomery County.
“Obviously, it could have been a lot worse.”
Mamana met with school staff on Monday morning to discuss whether the fires seemed linked to recent arson incidents in Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia. “It doesn’t look like it’s tied to anything else,” said Mamana.
Another rash of fires in Darnestown is also believed to be unconnected to the Wootton fire, said Geraci. Among the area fires was a small out-building near Travilah Elementary School that contained an energy supply for the school. The structure was burned late on July 4, doing $5,000 of damage to the school.
“Most of the fires we’ve had appear to be juvenile in nature,” said Geraci, including the Wootton fires.
THE SPONSOR BANNERS were due to be replaced before the upcoming school year.
“We were at a point where we were going to take those down and begin fundraising for next year,” said Tom Fechter, co-president of Wootton’s booster club along with his wife Sharon Fechter.
Geraci said the county would continue investigating the incidents.
“We’re going to see if there is any forensic evidence on the bottles,” said Geraci, who asked anybody with information on the incident to call Crimesolvers or the Tip Line (see box above).
Joe Mamana, an assistant principal at Wootton last year, is one of several administration members who have been acting principal since Dr. Rebecca Newman resigned from the position last month. While Newman was on medical leave late in the school year, Andrei Ghelman, another assistant, served as acting principal.