CHS student arrested in graffiti case |

CHS student arrested in graffiti case

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Students line up Wednesday afternoon beneath the Carson Middle School sign, which was defaced by vandals in a series of graffiti attacks in recent weeks. A Carson High School student was arrested and at least two other teens have been implicated.

A video game allegedly prompted a Carson High student and member of the school’s lauded culinary arts team, to deface Carson Middle School in a series of graffiti attacks that resulted in thousands of dollars in damage, an investigator said Wednesday.

Detective Brian Humphrey said Troy Szczotka, 18, was arrested on a felony charge of placing graffiti and defacing property for three assaults on the King Street school, two taggings of at least two Carson City businesses, an incident at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School and graffiti found in the bathrooms at Carson High School between March 18 and Sunday.

“Troy said he got the idea from the PlayStation game “Mark Ecko’s Contents Under Pressure,” Humphrey said. “Troy described the video as going around spray painting walls in the city and playing against the city to see how many times you could get your name out there. After a couple of weeks of playing the game for several hours during the night, he decided he wanted to get out there in real life and get status with his name as well.”

The limited-edition game, described as “a genre-defying gaming masterpiece that realistically portrays a person’s rise through the ranks of the graffiti greats,” comes in both Xbox and PlayStation formats and includes extra features such as a 30-minute documentary on graffiti culture and “a ‘Getting Up’ silver pen so you can make your mark on the world,” according to a description on an Xbox Web site.

Middle school officials have said the cleanup and restoration costs brought on by the hundreds of marks allegedly made by Szczotka, a 17-year-old classmate and 18-year-old Douglas High student, will exceed $5,000. Charges have yet to be filed against the two alleged accomplices.

Szczotka came to the attention of authorities Monday when deputies patrolling the middle school spotted him after midnight. When they attempted to speak to him, Szczotka allegedly fled, running through yards where he allegedly dumped a backpack containing spray paint before breaking a fence and falling into a rosebush. He was charged with eluding police and destruction of property for the fence. He posted bail and was released.

During his interview that evening, Szczotka allegedly confessed his involvement in the attacks on the middle school, Humphrey said.

“Deputies Keith Bopko and Don Gibson actually broke open the case,” he noted. “Because of their patrol, they prevented Troy from doing anymore graffiti. He admitted he was on his way to the school to do more damage.”

Humphrey said that based upon Szczotka’s initial statements, a warrant was issued for his arrest on felony graffiti charges. During subsequent interviews prior to his arrest, Szczotka allegedly also admitted to tagging Kragen Auto Parts, Wilson Granite and Carson High School.

Humphrey said Szczotka then went on to confess to defacing parts of the McCarran International Airport and the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas around March 19, while he and his high school team were participating in a culinary competition in which they ultimately won the state championship.

The Bellagio public relations office was unable to confirm if the hotel sustained a graffiti attack during that time.

Humphrey said the investigation continues and Szczotka may be tied to other graffiti attacks.

His bail was set at $5,000.

A message left for Szczotka was not immediately returned Wednesday.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.