The Department of Public Safety responded early Wednesday morning to a fire-related incident at Bovard Auditorium. This was the third in a series of similar incidents reported in the building in the last three weeks.
According to DPS crime logs, a custodian reported at 12:23 a.m. that a suspect spread hand sanitizer on a bathroom counter and used a burning paper towel to set it on fire.
The incident comes after two reports near 4 a.m. on March 26 and 27 that detail nearly identical incidents. According to DPS Sergeant Steve Alegre, the same custodian reported the incident all three times.
Alegre said DPS is waiting on confirmation for the time frame during which the suspect gained access to the building. He estimated that the most recent incident occurred some time between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., after most employees had left the building and before custodians arrived to begin cleaning.
“Fortunately, there’s been very minimal damage,” Alegre said during an interview at the scene. “But nonetheless, it’s been the same method of operation.”
A “Be on the Lookout,” or BOLO, alert was issued to DPS officers, according to Alegre. He said that as of near 1 a.m. Wednesday, surveillance operators were reviewing security footage to confirm whether the suspect was the same in all three instances.
Though the crime log detailed burnt hand sanitizer and paper towels on the bathroom counter, Alegre said there was also a line of napkins across the floor that had been partially ignited.
“Some [napkins] have burned, and then there’s a long line of them across the floor,” Alegre said. “I think his intention was to burn [some that] did not ignite, but some did.”
Alegre’s suggestion for DPS moving forward is to surveil the building between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., but he said he is not sure whether that surveillance would be possible all seven days of the week.
“One of my recommendations would be to put undercover people [at Bovard] and watch for that,” Alegre said. “And when a particular individual walks in that door and heads to that bathroom, see what we can find.”