The wooden flagpole at the front of the state-landmarked Santa Barbara Junior High School campus was destroyed and vandalized Sunday evening.
The flagpole was nearly fully sawed through about 5 feet from its base, according to Anthony Wagner, public engagement manager for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The freshly painted white flagpole was made of wood and stood 65 feet to 80 feet tall.
Santa Barbara police officers were called to the school at approximately 7:40 p.m. Sunday on a report of an individual attempting to saw down the historical flagpole, Wagner reported.
Upon arrival, officers observed a wood saw protruding from the nearly fully cut flagpole, and they identified an adult male attempting to hide behind the pole, Wagner said.
After commanding the individual — later identified as 34-year-old Steven Kyle Vondbrant of Santa Barbara — to the ground, Vondbrant took off running at full speed with the saw in hand, according to Wagner.
He said the officers were able to catch Vondbrant between East Cota Street and Bond Avenue, where he was apprehended without further incident.
Vondbrant was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on felony charges related to the vandalism. The investigation is ongoing and may include additional charges pending review by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, Wagner said.
Additionally, a district employee was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation for reported involvement in the incident, according to Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Hilda Maldonado.
“We take these matters seriously, and wanted to inform our community that we will take steps to replace the wooden flagpole,” Maldonado said.