An ordinary-looking Scott Hall dorm hallway belies a destructive scene that emerged just a week ago – one of the ripped out exit signs, live wires, lights out, missing fire extinguishers and ripped out security cameras .
“I woke up at 10 a.m. because I didn’t have class until 12:30 p.m.,” said LAS freshman and Scott Hall resident Ava Kolodziej. “And I couldn’t see the end of the hallway.”
According to the University of Illinois Police Department, between 5 and 6 a.m. on September 15, William Turk, a resident of Scott Hall and a freshman at the university, allegedly tore down 23 exit signs from the Scott Hall’s dormitory, damaging ceiling tiles and revealing interior wiring.
“I don’t know how this man did (the vandalism) in an hour,” Kolodziej said.
Posters, door name tags and two security cameras were also torn down throughout the dorm, leaving behind strewn trash and debris. Several soap dispensers were also damaged.
Pat Wade, director of strategic communications for the UIPD, also said six fire extinguishers had been removed from designated locations at Scott Hall.
According to Wade, stolen and damaged property was found in Turk’s dorm.
A resident of Scott Hall who shared a floor with Turk said the aftermath was “fucking chaos”.
“Live wires sticking out of the ceiling…it was ridiculous – lights (were) off,” the resident said, adding that the lights on the third floor were off until nearly 3 p.m. Thursday.
Another resident said Turk tried to enter their friend’s room, but was unsuccessful.
Mari Anne Brocker Curry, director of housing information and marketing for University Housing, said “all first floor exit signs and fire extinguishers were replaced within hours of the incident”.
“Building maintenance staff worked overtime to replace 25 exit signs destroyed in the incident,” Curry said. She was unable to give an exact figure for the cost of the repairs.
Curry also said that some repairs, such as those to some exit signs, were extended due to supply chain issues, although she later said that all exit signs were replaced.
The only item awaiting repair was a security camera, Curry said Sept. 21.
“The safety and security of the community is a priority as we carry out repairs.” said Curry.
Turk appeared for arraignment at the Champaign County Courthouse on September 16, the day after the incident.
Turk was charged with criminal damage to government-supported property and allegedly destroyed up to $10,000 worth of property, court records show.
The 18-year-old was released on his own recognizance. According to court records, Turk was ordered to “refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs” as part of his release conditions. He is due in court on October 19.
Additionally, Section 1-310 of the Student Code states that “tampering with equipment used for campus security may result in suspension or expulsion” and also sets out special rules against tampering or misuse of fire-fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers.
Freshman FAA student Kevin Mei and freshman engineering student Ethan Feng said the high-profile incident prompted them to make a small but meaningful change.
“We of course close our doors at night now.” Mei said.
Kolodziej had a similar reaction.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘What if I don’t close my door? ‘” Kolodziej said.