LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Mr. Aquarium is back open after vandals caused over $10,000 worth of damage to the store early Saturday morning.
Kyle Howard, president of Mr. Aquarium, said suspects broke through the sheet rock wall in the back of the building just after midnight and shot through ten of the aquarium tanks. They destroyed and emptied the cash register and damaged other equipment.
Kyle Howard, president of Mr. Aquarium, said he was out of town when store manager, Jennifer Casey, called to tell him the business' alarm went off.
Neither of them thought much of it.
"We get false alarms periodically," Howard said.
However, when Casey went to the store, she noticed a concerning scene.
"The police met her out front and the perimeter was sealed," Howard said. "She was perplexed by that and they came in and the first thing they saw was a register. It was discombobulated."
Then they heard the sound of rushing water.
"Ten of those aquariums were damaged and were shooting water out onto the floor," Howard said. "I think ultimately about a thousand gallons of water was dumped on the floor. It was kind of chaotic."
Casey immediately called the other store manager, Colton Smith, to come help her save the animals in damaged tanks.
"He was here within ten minutes," Casey said, "and helped me shut everything down and pull out corals and fish from the broken glass."
Casey and Smith's quick response "saved the day," Howard said.
"It could've been so much worse," he said. "We have tens of thousands of dollars worth of livestock and creatures that are alive, and that is the great part."
Casey and Smith assessed the damage afterwards and stayed to clean until after 3 a.m.
"When you work for something really hard and then it's just trashed," Smith said, "you want to be able to fix it again, so that's what we did."
Howard finally arrived at the store around 6 a.m., and immediately went to work on the tanks and systems he designed and built from scratch.
"I just stayed up yesterday and replumbed and fixed and cleaned the sales floor," he said, "and tried to cover the bullet holes so that the general public and kids especially wouldn't associate Mr. Aquarium with violence or anything like that."
The vandalism and stolen cash is stressful for Howard, but he said he can only focus on the positive.
"I wasn't angry or frustrated," he said. "I do want the person to be caught and offer a reward, and I would like to punish the person who did it. At the same time, I'm not going to dwell on that. I have to move on, so that's the way I handle it."
Howard asks anyone with information that could assist in this investigation to please call the Lubbock Police Department.
If you have any information you can call Crime Line at (806) 741-1000.