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Yes, there can be consequences to those YouTube stunts. This Tampa incident shows how.

Four popular YouTubers share lessons with their viewers after they are caught sneaking into fire-ravaged Lee Elementary School in Tampa.
From left, Colby Brock, Ricky Ireland, Nick Ireland and Sam Golbach discuss their January arrest on trespassing charges in Tampa. [YouTube]
From left, Colby Brock, Ricky Ireland, Nick Ireland and Sam Golbach discuss their January arrest on trespassing charges in Tampa. [YouTube]
Published Aug. 15, 2019
Updated Aug. 16, 2019

For two years, Sam Golbach and Colby Brock had been sneaking into abandoned buildings without any trouble.

Hotels. Hospitals. Prisons. Orphanages.

The popular YouTubers would explore the sites, record footage and share it with the more than 3.4 million subscribers to their Sam and Colby channel.

They’d had some close calls, for sure. But nothing to worry about.

So, when the California pair in January eyed an abandoned school in a Tampa neighborhood, they didn’t think much about the potential consequences. Nor did Odessa residents and fellow YouTubers Nick and Ricky Ireland, who joined them on the expedition.

“We thought it was going to be the easiest one in Florida,” Brock says in a YouTube video.

What they didn’t know was that the school, Lee Elementary, had burned down almost a year and a half earlier, has been renamed (Tampa Heights Elementary) and is being rebuilt on the same site.

Or, that they would be caught.

In a video posted late last month on the Ireland brothers’ Ireland Boys Productions channel (3.3 million subscribers), they came clean to their viewers about their Jan. 16 arrests on trespassing charges.

“The reason why we’re making this video is because we want to teach you guys a lesson,” Ricky Ireland says at the start of the 20-minute video. “You guys see all the crazy stuff that we all do, but sometimes you think that it’s all good and you don’t see the behind-the-scenes consequences of our actions. I think we can all say we learned a lesson after what happened.”

As of Thursday morning, the video, titled, “the time we got caught ... with Sam and Colby," had received over 2.4 million views.

The video includes footage of the expedition, right up to the point when Ricky Ireland says he pulled the Secure Digital (SD) card out of his phone as the group surrenders to Tampa police. K-9s can be heard barking in the yard as the four climb out of a school window.

The video also offers a rare glimpse inside a building that has been frozen in time since the Sept. 13, 2017 fire that gutted it after power that had been knocked out during Hurricane Irma was restored.

Ricky Ireland says in the video that he and his brother, known primarily for performing pranks and challenges, had some misgivings about the stunt. But their fears were eased by the presence of Golbach and Brock, of Encino, Calif., who have more experience shooting abandoned exploration videos.

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“We didn’t want to do this, but they convinced us,” Ricky Ireland says, just prior to the excursion. “There’s a bunch of signs everywhere (outside the school) that say we’re going to get into a bunch of trouble. (Golbach and Brock) said, ‘Don’t worry about the signs.’ Hopefully that doesn’t happen today, but you never know.”

To gain access to the school, the boys have to climb a fence and run across a field in broad daylight without being spotted, then hope they can locate an open door.

“It’s gonna have to be a quick send for the boys,” Nick Ireland says as they approach the the fence. “We’re gonna have to be Usain Bolt in there.”

The four make it over the fence and across the field seemingly without being spotted, then ascend a flight of steps and enter the school through an open window.

“Oh, my gosh, dude,” Ricky Ireland exclaims. “That was the most adrenaline-packed 30 seconds of my life.”

From left, Sam Golbach, Colby Brock and Nick Ireland hop a fence to gain access to Lee Elementary School. [YouTube]
From left, Sam Golbach, Colby Brock and Nick Ireland hop a fence to gain access to Lee Elementary School. [YouTube]

It is 5:30 p.m. The group hopes to explore the area in 30 minutes, gather their video footage and then exit the building the way they entered.

The floors are littered with personal artifacts: backpacks, umbrellas, papers, folders, markers; even a cow bell can be seen amid the debris. Golbach points to a sign taped to a wall outside one of the classrooms. It is a list of students and a teacher assigned to that room for the 2017-18 school year.

“This place closed, like, less than a year ago,” he exclaims. “What happened here?”

While exploring one of the classrooms, the four hear what sounds like someone yelling, “Yo!” outside. In retrospect, they say, it should have been their first clue that their presence had not gone unnoticed.

“Looking back on it now, we saw that we had every single sign and reason to turn back and not do it,” Ricky Ireland says in the video. “It was just a bad idea, but we decided to go ahead and do it, anyway.”

Nevertheless, the boys continue on. Ricky Ireland spots a pudding packet on a counter. He picks it up and checks the expiration date: May 26, 2018. He turns to the camera. “Let’s smash 100,000 ‘likes’ for this lick.” He peels back the wrapper and licks the pudding — acknowledging, “This is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever done." — then spits out the pudding.

Inside a school counselor’s office, they spot a couple of student IDs on the floor and a vial of what appears to be someone’s prescription medication.

A more frightening sight greets them inside another classroom: a police officer, who Ricky Ireland spies through one of the windows. “He’s looking in here,” he says.

The others think he is pranking them until Golbach spots another officer out of a different window. Careful to keep their heads below window level, the four crouch down and sneak around the building, searching for a way out. Realizing they are surrounded, they instead decide to dim their cameras look for a closet to hide in.

It seems like a viable strategy until one of the officers shouts into a megaphone that they have two minutes to leave the building before police send in the dogs.

Ricky Ireland attempts to duck out of sight as police surround Lee Elementary School in Tampa. [YouTube]
Ricky Ireland attempts to duck out of sight as police surround Lee Elementary School in Tampa. [YouTube]

“Dude, they’re sending the K-9s,” Ricky Ireland tells the others. “I have to say, ‘We’re here.’”

“Go for it,” Brock responds.

“We’re here! We’re here!” Ricky Ireland shouts.

“If they release the K-9s, it’s over," Nick Ireland notes afterward.

“Dogs would have ripped us apart,” his brother notes.

Says Golbach, “Dogs do not care. They would bite us to shreds.”

After exiting the window through which they first entered the building, the boys are separated, cuffed and placed into police cars. There, they wait for what Nick Ireland describes as “probably, what, like three hours,” as officers complete paperwork.

“We thought we were going to go out there and be cool, like, 'Yo, what’s up, guys? We’re from out of town. Can you just let us go?" Golbach says in the video. "That’s how it always goes. But for some reason, (Tampa police) were just stone cold.”

Brock and Ricky Ireland were taken to the police station. Golbach was first driven to another crime scene — “stuck in the back of a cop car with some meth head,” he says — before joining his friends an hour later. They were booked, searched for weapons and handed orange jumpsuits and baloney sandwiches, Ricky Ireland says.

Nick Ireland, who is under 18, was taken to a juvenile detention facility, his brother says in the video.

Sam Golbach points to a list of students assigned to a classroom for the 2017-18 school year. [YouTube]
Sam Golbach points to a list of students assigned to a classroom for the 2017-18 school year. [YouTube]

The four get a kick out of the fact that Brock is wearing a Justin Bieber shirt in his mug shot.

“It’s pretty legendary,” he says.

"Legendary, but ... " Ricky Ireland responds.

“Stupid,” Brock finishes.

Golbach and Ricky Ireland were bailed out after a few hours. Brock spent 24 hours in jail before he was released.

Now, after multiple court appearances and at great cost to them, the four are free of their obligations to the state.

Brock and Golbach, both 22, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor trespassing charges and the court withheld judgment, according to court records. Prosecutors dropped an additional charge against Brock of possessing a driver’s license with an altered date of birth.

Ricky Ireland, 20, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge and was placed in a misdemeanor intervention program.

“Now, I’m glad that it happened,” Ricky Ireland says in the video. “Not that we did the illegal thing, but that it stopped us and put us in our place. Nobody is above the law. Wrong is wrong. Right is right. If there’s one lesson you guys can take out there, it’s to think about what you’re doing before you do it.”

“There are consequences to your actions,” added his brother, Nick. “That’s the main thing.”

As the video ends, a line of text is superimposed over the image.

“It’s not a mistake to make a mistake but it is a mistake to repeat the mistake.”

Sam Golbach, left, and Colby Brock, right, peer out of a window inside Lee Elementary School as police surround the building. [YouTube]
Sam Golbach, left, and Colby Brock, right, peer out of a window inside Lee Elementary School as police surround the building. [YouTube]