NOTL resident Filomena Pisano made a startling discovery Thursday when she arrived at her new art gallery inside the former Virgil public school.
Someone had broken multiple windows, smashed a wall, appeared to have urinated on the floor and left droplets of blood along the hallways of the historic building.
“It was very creepy,” she told The Lake Report during an interview Sunday. “It looked ike a horror movie to me.”
She said the thing that worried her most was the blood.
“I thought OK, it was a bunch of punks, they broke a few (windows), but then when I saw the blood that scared me.”
After walking the halls and discovering more damage, she and her son, who was with her, phoned the police.
In response to questions from The Lake Report, Niagara Regional Police Const. Philip Gavin said it was determined six male ages 14 to 16 had entered the building and caused about $1,000 in damage.
He said the teens responsible “were identified and spoken to by the officer in the presence of their respective parents.”
“In line with the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act the youths were cautioned with extra-judicial measures,” he added.
Pisano said she’s happy the youth were caught, but thinks they deserve more than a scolding.
“They should come clean up the entire mess and apologize to the people they affected,” she said.
Though her studio was left unharmed, she sympathizes with the local churches and volunteers that also work out of the building on Four Mile Creek Road.
“The two churches had both door windows smashed and the hallway to the newer section of the building was disgusting,” she said.
“It was so disheartening. I am so very grateful that by chance I did not go there alone today. My very tall, big, handsome son was with me. Alone I’m sure I would have fainted!
To vent her frustration with the situation, she wrote a letter to the vandals. The letter appears in The Lake Report’s opinion pages this week.
Still, she is thankful her art wasn’t destroyed.
“That’s my life work. I mean, you can’t replace art once it’s damaged,” she said, noting it takes many hours to complete one of her pieces.
“I was lucky I didn’t see a single dent in my spot.”
Coincidentally Pisano and her son were about to go buy video cameras for her gallery, she said.
“My son said, ‘Mom, I don’t like you being there on your own. I’m going to get some cameras and we’re going to install them.’ I said, ‘Well, you know what, let’s go look at the space first and decide what we want to do.’ And that’s when we came and saw it.”
“We never made it to Best Buy.”
She said now she will be sure to install cameras just in case.
Lloyd Redekopp, the owner of the building, could not be reached for comment.