Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Public safety

Avon Park riot damage less than expected, state official says

AVON PARK— The scent of fresh paint wafted from a tidy row of cottages Tuesday at the Avon Park Youth Academy, not quite the scene of sweeping destruction state Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters expected.

In her first visit to the property since becoming secretary in January 2011, Walters walked a barbed-wire ringed section of cottages where, Polk County sheriff's deputies say, some of the 138 teen boys housed there wreaked havoc Saturday night.

Deputies reported seeing teenagers throw televisions and fire extinguishers through windows. By Tuesday, the glass shards had been swept and many of the windows replaced, work aided by the 66 boys who remain there.

"I guess that TV survived," Walters said as she stood in the recreation area of one cottage.

Without calling descriptions by the Sheriff's Office an exaggeration, she seemed to view the damage as less extreme than initially reported.

"It's certainly not a good thing that happened," she said. "But it certainly wasn't to the scale we thought."

The Sheriff's Office initially reported that at least 18 of the 20 buildings had been destroyed during the riot. Carrie Eleazer, a sheriff's spokeswoman who toured the property afterward, said she meant damage had rendered the buildings uninhabitable.

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