The Bloomingtonian

IU student arrested and charged with 10 counts of arson

Update:

IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger said the first fire was started with a pizza box December 3 at Hodge Hall. Police officers looked at camera footage from the area, and saw a woman carrying the pizza box, said Bunger.

Another fire was started two days later in Psychology, and then it stopped said, Bunger. Until Tuesday, when a fire started at 10 a.m. was one of 8 fires set, which kept police, and firefighters busy all day, said Bunger.

The seventh fire was set Tuesday around 8p.m. and as Bloomington firefighters arrived, another fire was set, and that’s when a police officer looked up, and saw the woman matching the description of the photo from the Dec. 3 fire, said Bunger. Officers had been carrying copies of the Dec. 3 photo from the surveillance camera, according to Bunger.

The woman was stopped, and an hour later, she admitted to setting all the fires, except for one, said Bunger. Bunger said the motivation for why she set the fires is still being looked into, but that all the fires had to be investigated criminally. Bunger said if the woman needs help, the university will help her with counseling, or whatever she needs.

Earlier Story:

The Indiana University police arrested a student who is being charged with 10 counts of arson after members of the Bloomington Fire Department were dispatched to the Chemistry building Tuesday night. IU spokesman Chuck Carney confirmed the arrest.

Earlier in the afternoon Tuesday, fire fighters arrived to the Chemistry building to find four separate fires burning in women’s restrooms on four floors of the building, according to scanner traffic. Firefighters vented the smoke from the restrooms.

The fires followed others, listed in an IU Crime Notice:

“REPORTED OFFENSE: On December 17, 2019 at 10:00AM, the IUPD received three reports of arsons. A student that was using the women’s restroom in Rawles Hall discovered a fire in a metal trash container.  Also at 10:13 AM, students reported additional fires located in metal trash containers in women’s restrooms in Jordan Hall.  No fire alarms were activated, and minor damage was contained to the trash containers and their contents.  The fires were started by an unknown person and unknown source. The IUPD continues to investigate the incidents. The IUPD is issuing a crime notice for all three incidents due to the close proximity of the locations and type of crime committed.

TIME AND LOCATION OF OFFENSE: The incidents today occurred on 12/17/2019 at 10:00 AM in Rawles Hall, and at Jordan Hall at 10:13 AM.”

The Bloomington followed up with IU Wednesday morning after hearing scanner traffic when an IU officer spoke of an arrest, and IU spokesman Chuck Carney released the following, which is presented unchanged in double quotes:

““Indiana University Police have made an arrest overnight following a string of arsons on the IU Bloomington campus. Detectives investigated 10 arsons in the last 15 days, with most of the fires occurring in the last twenty-four hours.”

 “A significant amount of effort, time and resources were expended to investigate these cases. To intentionally set fires in occupied buildings to cause panic and possibly injure people is unacceptable behavior. At this time the fires caused only minor property damage but exhausted university and city resources to respond and investigate,” said IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger.

IU student Alekhya Koppineni was charged with 10 felony counts of Arson.

IU Police began a full investigation following the first reports of what appeared to be intentionally set fires on December 3, 2019.   Officers have diligently worked to ensure that IU students, faculty, and staff stayed safe and property damage was minimal.””

This story will be updated if more information becomes available.

All charges are mere allegations unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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