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Howard police investigating after they say a man broke into the county Board of Education building

The Howard County Board of Education building was broken into Wednesday evening, according to the Howard County Police Department.
The Howard County Board of Education building was broken into Wednesday evening, according to the Howard County Police Department. (Photo courtesy of Howard County school system Superintendent Michael Martirano)

The Howard County Board of Education building was broken into Wednesday evening, according to the Howard County Police Department.

Police spokesperson Lori Boone wrote in an email that the glass front door was broken but said nothing was taken from the board’s headquarters in Ellicott City. Police are investigating the incident as a “commercial burglary, and the suspect is a white male with a thin build.

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“A suspect gained entry to the building by breaking the front glass door and entered the vestibule before fleeing,” Boone wrote.

According to a video posted on Facebook by Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano, a man brought a bag of rocks and started throwing them through the glass door at the front of the building. He briefly entered the building to break the glass on another set of doors before leaving, the video shows.

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“This brazen act of violence occurred to the Howard County Board of Education building [Wednesday] after I left my office,” Martirano posted on his personal Facebook page. “It is an unconscionable act, and I am deeply saddened on so many levels at the current state of unrest in our country. If you recognize the person in this video, please call the Howard County police immediately.”

According to the video, which is a phone recording of security camera video, the incident occurred at 7:13 p.m. Wednesday, a few hours after a violent mob of Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

School board Chairperson Chao Wu and members Jolene Mosley and Vicky Cutroneo posted on Twitter Wednesday night about the incident.

“I strongly condemn such act of violence,” Wu wrote. “It should have no place in our county and society.”

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“Whether this was a random incident of destruction or if this is coordinated with a specific movement or cause, I unequivocally condemn this dangerous act of violence,” Mosley wrote. “The staff have been tirelessly working throughout the [coronavirus] pandemic, and they should never be made to feel unsafe.”

“I am not naive enough to even consider that this was just a random stunt,” Cutroneo wrote. “I condemn this and all of the collective manifestations of hate and violence both on social media and in real life.”

The incident is the latest in a stretch of instances in which Martirano and other board members have released statements of condemnation in the past few months.

Last month, Martirano issued a scathing rebuke of online “bullying” of the Board of Education’s student member.

“I expect that my remarks today will ruffle some feathers, and I encourage those who take exception to my words to look in the mirror and ask yourself why my defense of a student being bullied by adults would ever cause you concern,” Martirano said at a Dec. 22 board meeting.

During the Dec. 22 meeting, a small group of people protested outside of board member Jen Mallo’s home. Multiple board members commented about it at the end of the meeting or posted on social media to condemn the protest. In a Facebook post the next day, Mallo wrote that her husband called the police, as directed by school system security, and that the protesters were there for about an hour.

“During the [2019 school] redistricting process, I had received death threats and threats to the safety of my family, so I was unfortunately familiar with the procedures,” Mallo wrote.

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