OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A Central Florida community is getting results after vandals targeted the historic area of Pioneer Village in Osceola County and caused thousands of dollars in damage.
A glimpse of the pioneer days can be seen at the Pioneer Village of Shingle Creek, which is preserving a period of history for the future.
"This is a gem for the county, for the community," Donnita Dampier, the executive director of the Osceola County Historical Society, said.
But it also was the target of vandals, who sneaked into the village early Sunday morning and left people upset.
Dampier said the alarm went off around 4:30 a.m. Osceola County sheriff's deputies checked it out, but Dampier said they didn't realize how much damage was done until the next day.
"When our staff came to open at 9:30 in the morning, they found five of our buildings had been vandalized," she said.
The vandals kicked down doors and snapped them from their hinges. A footprint on the door of the school house could still be seen Friday afternoon.
Someone also shot through the window of the school. The bullet lodged in the side of the general store and damaged a basket inside.
Staff members also found another bullet lodged in an informational sign.
Across the property, two homes from the late 1800s were also damaged. The doors and windows are now boarded up after they were kicked in and the original glass windows were smashed.
Dampier estimated repairing the damage will cost $4,000, which is money she said the historical society doesn't have.
"We don't budget for something like this to happen and you can't just go out and buy another 1800s door to replace the one that was broken down at Home Depot," Dampier said.
That was the case until the community stepped in and got results.
The historical society started an online fundraiser after the vandalism. Their goal was to raise $5,000. Dampier said that within 24 hours, they were halfway to their goal. In less than one week, they raised more than enough money to fix the damage and make improvements to their security.
"I can't even really express how grateful we are to the community," Dampier said.
Dampier is hopeful whoever did this will be caught. She said she only had one question to ask the vandals.
"I would just like to know why. Why would you want to destroy something that really belongs to your community?" Dampier said.
Dampier said deputies collected evidence from the scene and have been following up on leads, but no arrests had been made.