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Students react to unknown suspect in Territorial Hall women’s bathroom

After two prior incidents occurred within this school year, Territorial Hall is the third residence hall to report an incident with an unknown suspect.
Image by David Stager
Territorial Residence Hall on Tuesday, February 22.

On Feb. 6, the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) responded to an incident involving an unknown suspect seen in a women’s bathroom on the fourth floor of Territorial Hall.

The incident in Territorial Hall is the third resident hall this school year with issues regarding unescorted individuals this school year, according to multiple University emails.

After investigating Territorial Hall, UMPD ensured that the suspect was no longer in the building, according to the email sent to Superblock residents. Six days after the initial email was sent, a follow-up email was sent to Superblock residents with a link to a picture of the suspect seen in Territorial Hall.

In October of last year, a different suspect broke into Frontier Hall and Comstock Hall, taking inappropriate photos of women in the women’s bathrooms.

On Feb. 16, UMPD said in a statement that they arrested and charged a man named Deontre Donnell Mason for breaking into Frontier Hall and Comstock Hall.

In an emailed response about the incident, University Housing & Residential Life (HRL) Interim Director Susan Stubblefield stated how safety in residence halls is HRL’s top priority and responsibility on campus.

“It is not often that these incidents happen, but when they do, we take them seriously and address them in a variety of ways,” Stubblefield wrote.

Stubblefield added in her email that University Security increased in Territorial Hall as well as the other dorms on campus as “their staffing allows.”

HRL asked students to be aware of their surroundings in order to prevent incidents like these from occurring again, according to Stubblefield’s email.

“We also ask everyone to be diligent as they enter and exit residence halls and apartments,” Stubblefield wrote. “It is critical that each resident use their U Card/key fob when entering the building and that any guests be escorted at all times.”

First-year student Halle Brindley said she is not surprised that this has happened, especially with how easy it is to get into University residence halls.

“The security is good at some of the other residence halls, but not in T-Hall,” Brindley said.

According to first-year student Mercedes Stromberg, Superblock residents were the only dorms to receive emails about the incident.

“All of the parents of Superblock residents and the students got an email about what happened, but what about all the other kids?” Stromberg said. “It’s still scary for everybody else.”

A SAFE-U alert was not sent out to students, and Brindley said Superblock residents did not receive an email until the day after the incident occurred.

“We get SAFE-Us from Dinkytown and we don’t even live near there, but when it comes to places near us, we don’t get anything,” Brindley said.

Stromberg added that she “was waiting to get the SAFE-U alert, but it never came.”

According to the SAFE-U alert website, SAFE-U alerts are sent out when a reported crime poses “a serious, immediate or on-going threat to the campus community.”

First-year student Sohan Jerripothula said that security could be better in the dorms.

“This could be a good wake up call for people to take precautions,” Jerripothula said. “It’s important to educate people more on what they can do to be safer.”

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