Student cited for vandalism

Kari Thumlert

CSUN police officers arrested, cited and released a 23-year-old male suspect for misdemeanor vandalism after a witness said she and four friends allegedly saw him vandalizing glass cases and wall placards in Jerome Richfield Hall Tuesday at approximately 9:45 a.m.

The witness, a freshman psychology major, said she was setting up a tamale sale in the JR building hallway when she “noticed a male student walking around talking to what looked like himself, or he may have been on a Bluetooth (headset). I do not really know.”

The witness, whose name is being withheld for safety reasons, said what she and her friends witnessed next was upsetting. She said she saw the suspect using a “black and gray permanent marker” to mark X’s on some M.E.Ch.A. and other organizations’ materials that were posted in displays in the hallways.

“We were like, what’s his problem? He is putting X’s all over our stuff,” she said.

A walk through the JR building confirmed the vandalism the student said she witnessed. There were about 10 X’s written on various glass exhibits, “Sonic Phi Sigs” on the 118 room placard and the remnants of a black X that were apparently drawn on the Faculty Office’s M.E.Ch.A. placard.

A web search of “Sonic Phi Sigs” did not produce any listings alluding to its meaning, nor did phone calls to law enforcement officials outside of campus.

After the incident, the witness said she went to the Department of Chicana/o Studies office to report what she had seen to David Rodriguez, the chair of the department.

“The chair went with us to see what was going on. And as we were walking back to the office, one of the students in our group saw (the suspect) walk back into the building and said, ‘There he is,'” she said.

“Then he saw us and turned around and calmly walked out of the building and the chair followed him, and someone from the office called the police,” she said.

Jennifer Wofford, administrative coordinator and secretary for the Department of Chicana/o Studies office provided the same account as the witness.

Wofford said some students came into the office and reported that they saw someone writing on the walls with a permanent marker. Rodriguez went with them to see the damage. On their way back to the office, one of the students saw the suspected vandal and pointed him out.

Rodriguez then “told me to call the police and he followed the student out of the building to talk to him to try to find out what was going on with him and detain him until the police arrived,” Wofford said.

Rodriguez said he confronted the suspect outside and told him that the police were on the way.

“He exhibited strange behavior. Because after I confronted him, he just stayed outside, ignored me and talked on his cell phone. When police arrived, I pointed him out along with the student who (said she) witnessed him defacing the walls and glass cases,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad no one was hurt.”

The witness and Wofford said they were baffled as to why someone would act in such a manner.

The witness said, “It’s not like (the suspect) did it all over, just certain organizations (such as M.E.Ch.A). Maybe he has a lot of feelings toward (those organizations). Maybe he’s traumatized. Maybe (he) hates us; maybe drugs or maybe random. I don’t know. It’s just sad.”

Christina Villalobos, special assistant to the Chief of Police, confirmed the arrest, citation and release of the suspect and said she could not release his name because he is a CSUN student.

Villalobos said in an e-mail interview that the “suspect admitted using X as his fraternity letters.” Police are not “classifying this as a hate crime” and “the (arresting) officer found a Sharpie permanent marker in his pocket.”

Wofford said that although the incident was sad and disheartening, “We are a strong department and we keep moving on.”