Student chargedin arsonincident

by Jim Martyka

Andrew Tellijohn

Ryan Edwin Evanson, a freshman at the University, was charged on Tuesday afternoon with one count of first-degree arson in connection with a fire in Sanford Hall.
Evanson, a Sanford resident, is accused of starting a fire late Saturday night in the dormitory.
In order for a person to be charged with first-degree arson, a fire must cause damage over $1,500. The fire Evanson was detained for did not cause that amount of damage but University Police determined it would have if someone hadn’t extinguished it immediately, Sgt. Joe May said.
May said investigators decided to pursue first-degree arson charges after considering the severity of Evanson’s alleged actions.
“We have to look at how society feels about somebody setting a fire in a residence hall with 500 people,” May said.
The fire was the fifth such incident at Sanford Hall since Feb. 15. Police are continuing their investigation. No arrests have been made in the other four fires.
If convicted, Evanson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $35,000 fine.

University Police and the Minneapolis Fire Department also responded to similar incidents last week.

ù At Middlebrook Hall, an unknown person lit three small fires on pieces of paper on Monday outside a loading dock.
The fires were extinguished by snow falling in the area.
ù On the pedestrian level of the Washington Avenue Bridge, an unknown person on Saturday set a billboard on fire. The Minneapolis Fire Department responded and put out the fire.
ù Officials also responded to two false fire alarms on Saturday, one at Frontier Hall and one at the Donhowe Building.
Both agencies are investigating the fires and the false alarms.
In other police news:
ù A woman who initially reported a sexual assault to University Police on Thursday found herself in jail later that evening.
The woman told police that she was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance while driving on Interstate 94 in St. Paul during heavy traffic. She later flagged down officers from the side of the highway and told them what had happened. Police couldn’t locate the suspect.
Despite the woman’s complaint, University Police had trouble with her report.
“The method for the assault is not consistent with any (case) I’ve ever done before,” said May. “I’m not saying I don’t believe her, but the incident is unusual.”
The woman was taken to the Fairview University Medical Center for treatment. A routine check on the woman’s records found that she had a warrant out for a $1,000 forgery.
After she was treated, the woman was booked at Hennepin County Jail.
St. Paul Police are still investigating the sexual assault.

ù A University Police officer on Friday arrested a man who had been charged with fifth-degree assault six months earlier.
According to police reports, Officer Kristin Tyra recognized Edgar Romeo Coleman as he was walking on Pleasant Street S.E. Tyra had arrested Coleman previously for an assault. A records check showed that Coleman, who had been issued trespass warnings banning him from all University buildings, also had a warrant out for another fifth-degree assault.
He was arrested and booked at Hennepin County Jail.

ù Officers were dispatched to the Oak Street Ramp on Wednesday after University Police received reports that three men were acting suspiciously in the complex.
According to reports, officers found a five-and-a-half-inch knife on one of the men and a laser sight extension for a gun on another.
While the one man was charged with possession of the knife, police did not charge the other man because he did not possess a gun. May said the man could not be charged because the scope was not officially a weapon.
“However, you could really scare somebody with that red laser,” he said.

ù Officials in Norris Hall caught a man looking into a woman’s locker room on Friday.
According to police reports, the man was confronted twice, but both times responded that he made a mistake and went into the wrong room. The man eventually left.
However, officials notified police because they have experienced a recent rash of thefts in the building. Police are investigating.

ù University Police cited a man for lurking with the intent to steal after a University custodian detained him during a scuffle.
The custodian reported that he caught the man after the man’s companion tried to steal property from the custodian. The other man left before police arrived.

ù A University student reported an indecent exposure to University Police on Tuesday after she allegedly saw a man masturbating in a room in Murphy Hall.
According to police reports, after the woman witnessed the incident, she walked away. She said she saw the man later, and he was still in the act. Reports said the woman sensed the man tried to make her notice what he was doing.
Police are investigating.