Police catch girls, ages 11 to 13, trying to burn down vacant Detroit school

Officers with the Detroit Public Schools Police Department were on regular patrol Sunday evening when they saw what appeared to be a recent burglary at the closed Van Zile School on the east side.

What they saw inside was shocking – four girls, ages 11 to 13, setting fires inside the school at 2915 E. Outer Dr.

“Our officers were able to extinguish the fire and then after taking the girls into custody, checked the remainder of the building with the Detroit Fire Department to ensure no other fires had been set,” said Steve Wasko, assistant superintendent for community relations.

The juveniles were taken into custody shortly before 7:30 p.m.

With dozens of abandoned schools to protect, DPS police officers are responsible for keeping out vandals and scrappers.

Although Van Zile is vacant, it is in good shape.

It wasn’t immediately clear Monday why the girls were trying to burn down the school.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.