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Teens face charges they vandalized hospital

COVINGTON - Three teens are facing various charges after police say they entered a newly constructed wing of Newton Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon and decided to discharge several fire extinguishers.

Police were notified about the incident about 3 p.m., after Covington Fire Department Capt. Tony Smith called to report that hospital security had the three teenage boys, a 14-year-old and two 13-year-olds, in custody for allegedly setting off the building's emergency fire system, Covington Police Officer Brent Fuesting said in an incident report.

According to Fuesting, the boys reportedly entered the new fourth floor of the hospital, which was vacant at the time, stole several "nonessential" medical supply items and then discharged three fire extinguishers. Chemicals from the fire extinguishers triggered the hospital's emergency fire system, which subsequently alerted CFD personnel of a possible fire on the floor.

Witnesses reported seeing the suspects running from the fourth floor to the third floor and then down the stairs to the first floor where they were observed by several hospital employees, according to the CPD report.

Two of the teens were later apprehended by hospital security, at which point they reportedly said they were lost and trying to find their younger brother on the third floor. The third suspect was eventually located and taken into custody, as well.

Each of the suspects was taken to CPD headquarters and interviewed by a detective, Fuesting said.

The teens, who have each been charged with interference with government property, theft by taking, criminal damage to property and false public alarm, were then released to the custody of the Newton County Sheriff's Office and transported to a juvenile detention facility in Sandersville.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com