by: Richard Elliot Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Six DeKalb County teens are facing charges after a homeowner said he caught them vandalizing his air conditioning unit and huffing the coolant inside.
"They just came here, and they sniffed Freon," said Herman Lorenz.
He took pictures of the teens surrounding his AC unit.
"They break into the AC system to breathe the Freon, and then I guess have a good time," he said.
Lorenz said he's had trouble with Lakeside students before. The campus is only about 300 yards behind his house through some thick woods. He said he's snapped pictures of teens in his backyard before, but even he was stunned when he snapped the photographs Monday afternoon.
"We heard people on the back deck. I went out to look," said Lorenz. "I could tell there were kids rolling around on the ground. I mean, it was that bad. They were having a hard time standing up," he said.
Lorenz said he stepped out to confront the teens and take more pictures, but he thinks they were too disoriented to realize what he was doing.
"They were just standing there, giving me this dumbfounded look," Lorenz said. "And finally someone said, ‘He's taking pictures.’ Then, one of them just sort of started walking back and forth just like dazed. Then, they finally realized what was happening and they just started running."
Lorenz said the teens left their book bags and student IDs behind. DeKalb County police said they used that information to track the teens back to Lakeside, where administrators helped track them down.
"Our detectives followed up, worked with the school, and they were able to identify all six of the students," said DeKalb police spokeswoman Mekka Parish.
Parish said all six were charged with misdemeanor criminal tresspass, criminal damage and theft. They were not arrested but will have to appear in juvenile court.
"This is extremely dangerous," said Parish. "It's never a good idea to take any type of a substance in an attempt to get high, but especially something that is as toxic as Freon."
"Ninety-nine percent of the students are nice kids, and they do nothing wrong," said Lorenz. "High school kids are high school kids, and sometimes there are some bad incidents that happen."
Lorenz hopes the students and their families will pay to repair his air conditioner.