This morning, Public Safety was alerted to a fire in Derham Hall in a basement bathroom, that was followed by additional reports of fires. Following the report of a third fire and a pattern was noted, arson was suspected and University officials along with the St. Paul Police and Fire Departments were immediately alerted. The fire department arrived on campus at 11:40 a.m., followed by the police.
Working with the police and fire departments, Public Safety officers reviewed security footage and were able to identify the suspect entering the various buildings. Around 1:30 p.m., the suspect was located in the third floor Crandall Hall lounge. The suspect was removed from campus at 2:35 p.m. and arrested on suspicion of first-degree arson. The St. Paul police and fire departments then declared the campus secure. The suspect is a former student who was last enrolled at St. Kate’s this past fall, but is not currently enrolled for January term or spring semester.
No injuries to people were reported during this incident. In total, seven buildings and eight fires were reported. The fires were small and quickly contained. The arson incidents included fires set to a chair and papers in a garbage can. The extent of the damage to University property is still being determined, but no major damage has been reported. The buildings impacted include Coeur de Catherine, Derham Hall, Mendel Hall, St. Mary's residence hall, Fontbonne, the library and the Butler Center.
Faculty, staff, and students were notified of the arson via email, social media, text message, and LiveSafe app. The first communication went out starting at 12:10, with updates approximately every 15 minutes. The last communication was sent at approximately 3:07 p.m. after the suspect was removed from campus and the St. Paul police declared everything was all clear.
This is an ongoing investigation with the St. Paul police department, and we will continue to provide updates as information is made available.
"While this was an unfortunate and stressful event, I am thankful we are all safe and for the wonderful and fast response of our Public Safety team along with the local police and fire departments," said President Becky Roloff. "Their thorough and quick actions helped ensure we were kept informed and the situation was resolved as quickly as possible."
"This is also an opportunity for our campus community to take a moment and remind ourselves of what to do in an emergency," Roloff added. "Additionally, I encourage our community members to download and set up the LiveSafe app to receive texts and alerts from St. Kate’s."
Correction: An earlier version of this campus update included Our Lady of Victory Chapel as one of the buildings impacted. There was not a fire in the Chapel. However, there was a fire in the library, which was not on the earlier list of buildings.