The cause of the fire in the Living Learning Center last fall is still being investigated. The case was turned over to the Shawnee County district attorney earlier this semester.
“From what I understand, it was a case of arson,” said Ed White, university police captain.
White’s investigation was conducted through interviews of LLC residents and others on campus. White said he could not comment on whether any offenders had been identified or why the incident was suspected to be arson.
The fire originated in one of the elevators and caused damages to the other. Repairs have been completed and both elevators are back in operation. The estimated cost of repair was between $200,000 and $300,000.
Mindy Rendon, director of residential living, said both elevators are now in good condition.
“The LLC does have a sprinkler system, and that day it worked exactly as it was supposed to,” said Rendon. “The sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading to the lobby.
The reward for information remains uncollected, but White said Crime Stoppers and Washburn are still offering rewards that total $7,000.
Rendon said Meredith Kidd, dean of students, is also offering a $500 reward to anyone with information. White said he wanted to “stress the fact that people need to contact the police” with information about vandalism. Calls can be made anonymously.
Rendon said the staff at the LLC is keeping an eye on suspicious activity, and she encourages anyone with information to step forward.
“It’s just unfortunate,” she said. “It negatively impacts the community. The cost of damages gets distributed among everybody, and that’s really unfair.”
According to the police department’s incidents log, several acts of vandalism have occurred since March: a chair was thrown from the upper floors of the LLC, walls were drawn on with marker and someone broke into one of the vending machines.
“The problem is not unique to Washburn,” said White, “but by law it is vandalism, and we will pursue that.”