Thursday, June 5, 2003

Prank kills peacock at Mason High



By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - A senior prank that went bad resulted in the death of a peacock after students turned a menagerie of stolen birds and animals loose at Mason High School Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Ten seniors are under investigation by the school and could be barred from graduation ceremonies if they were directly involved, school officials said. Four of them could face theft and animal cruelty charges, although no arrests had been made by Wednesday evening.

Warren County Sheriff Tom Ariss said the peacock, rabbit and five chickens were among several birds and animals stolen from a farm in Deerfield Township.

Not all the stolen animals made it to school, Ariss said. A second peacock is still missing. A kitten and second rabbit were located off school campus and returned to the owner. A dead rabbit also was found at the farm, and detectives are trying to determine whether its death was linked to the theft, the sheriff said.

District spokeswoman Shelly Benesh Hausman said the peacock found roaming the halls at Mason High died after suffering a broken leg and other injuries, which might have occurred during its capture.

"I don't think the kids understand how destructive and disruptive these things can be. They may think it's fun, but they don't realize the consequences. We take a dim view of this activity," she said.

The offending students apparently brought the animals in with them when they arrived for class Tuesday and turned them loose as they walked in, she said.

"Some of these animals just started appearing in the building," Benesh Hausman said. Administrators and teachers rounded them up.

The animals belonged to the family of a student, but the girl was not involved in the prank, said Ariss.

E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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