PELHAM, NH (CBS) – Days after the death of a high school student in Pelham, New Hampshire, some of his grieving friends could be in trouble.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

Police say earlier this week, vandals spray painted messages on the high school mourning the loss of junior Zach Andrews.

Andrews, 16, died last Saturday, after suffering for weeks from a rare and aggressive strain of pneumonia.

The messages scrawled on the building read “RIP” and “We miss you buddy,” and make other references to Andrews.

Officials called the graffiti memorial an unacceptable way to express sadness.

“Memorialize your friend in a way that doesn’t damage school or town property,” Police Lt. Brian McCarthy said.

Police are looking at surveillance video to try and identify the vandals. If they are caught, the vandals face criminal mischief charges.

But that threat from poliec is not stopping everyone.

“He’s the most positive kid I ever met,” said one friend who stopped by the school to add his name to a wall just outside the entrance.

He was turned away.

“He was a friend of mine. I think I should be on that wall. I think everyone should be on that wall,” the unidentified friend said.

Officials say the graffiti has not yet been removed because temperatures have been too cold. Neighbors say it doesn’t bother them.

“There’s actual meaning behind that. It’s not just pointless tagging,” said Jeff Brady who lives across the street. “I don’t think those kids meant any harm.”

That may be true, say police, but it will be an expensive clean-up. The school is now calling in an outside contractor with specialized equipment.

“That won’t be cheap. Nothing is cheap,” said Lt. McCarthy. “There is a criminal investigation at this time, and we’re still conducting interviews and looking at surveillance tape.”

Lt. McCarthy said the spray-painters will have to foot the bill for the clean-up.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager contributed to this story.


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