Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LSU Architecture Student Has Bad Day And Causes Student Panic

An interesting day in Baton Rouge yesterday. (A Link to Pics at the Link)

The University student who caused an uproar Tuesday when he drove a car into the Quad before parking it and throwing out a random assortment of items including a large sling blade and a gas can, posed no threat to the University community, said Sgt. Kevin Scott, LSU Police Department Spokesman.After being located by police, Storm Erie was voluntarily taken to the hospital with no visible injuries, and he is now in medical care, Scott said. Scott described the architecture sophomore as “incoherent,” but said he had no visible physical injuries.

Erie’s sister, Skye, said he has a medical problem the family has been struggling with but did not elaborate on the problem and chose not to comment further.There are currently no charges filed against Erie, but Scott said charges will likely follow the ongoing investigation.Although the incident ended with no injuries, many witnesses criticized the response from LSUPD, claiming it took more than 10 minutes for police to reach the Quad, a claim Scott refuted.

Witnesses and police said University student Storm Erie drove a blue Mercedes along the sidewalk around Middleton Library, down the steps at the front entrance and through the Quad, nearly hitting multiple students before parking on a grassy area in the middle of the quad.“He drove down the steps at the library, honking his horn and almost hitting people,” said Kandice Tyler, psychology junior, who witnessed Erie drive his car into the quad. “I really thought he was going to start shooting or something.”

Erie, accompanied by his dog, began throwing the contents of his vehicle onto the ground in the Quad.A dirty pair of rubber boots, a half-empty bottle of wine, a large wooden sling blade, a djembe, a four-sided lugwrench, a skateboard, a wooden chess set, a sweater, a pair of shoes, landscaping bags, a flashlight and a small mug littered the ground behind the car.He also propped up a set of blueprints along the back of the running car.“

He was a real scraggily white dude — he was either crazy or on something serious,” said Michael Fernandez, sociology junior. “He walked up to me and said, ‘I just want to shake your hand.’ I asked him what he was doing, and he said, ‘Blueprints, man — come check out these blueprints.’”Architecture junior Jeremy Bunner, a classmate who saw the situation, said the blueprints were from an annual architecture competition.

“We spent a lot of time and effort on them,” Bunner said. “Maybe he was just proud of it.”

Fernandez and other witnesses said Erie threw CDs into the air before attempting to jack up his car.He also placed a large gas can on top of his car before moving it to the top of a nearby garbage can.

The can contained barely enough gas to fill the bottom, Scott said.Joe Rhodes, a graduate instructor, said he called the police for the second time and instructed students to stay away from Erie when he took the gas can from the car.

Rhodes and other witnesses said Erie then put his dog on a leash, picked up his backpack and walked to the Art and Design Building, leaving his car and its contents in the middle of the Quad.

Rhodes followed Erie into the building, where he said Erie shook hands with an unidentified student who handed Erie a small electronic device and left. Rhodes said he instructed people to leave the building.“I was thinking, ‘This is how memorials get built,’” Rhodes said.

Scott later confirmed Erie was carrying a radio amplifier which matched Rhodes’ description of the object. Scott could not confirm where Erie got the radio amplifier.Thomas Sofranko, professor and associate dean of the architecture program, said he was alerted to a commotion in the main lobby of the Art and Design building and found Erie and his dog wondering around the lobby.Sofranko said he was unaware of Erie’s earlier actions in the Quad and recognized him from the college.“I said, ‘Storm, what is going on.

Do you need to sit down?’” Sofranko said. “He looked distraught.”Sofranko said Erie followed him back to his office where they talked before police arrived.Sofranko declined to explain what Erie said because it was “private.”Rhodes called the police again with Erie’s location.Scott said LSUPD arrived shortly after and searched Erie.

He had no drugs in his possession, Scott said.Police accounts of how long it took for officers to reach the Quad contradict several witness statements.Scott said it took police three minutes to arrive in the Quad after receiving the first calls, according to radio records, which he said cannot be released until the investigation is complete.Rhodes vehemently disagreed with LSUPD and said it took more than 10 minutes for police to arrive in the Quad.“From the first time I called — and the operator said I wasn’t the first one to call — it was 20 minutes until they found him,” Rhodes said. “He was in the Quad for more than three minutes.

He was in the Quad for at least 10 minutes.”Police didn’t reach the Quad before Erie went to the Art and Design Building.“I am irate,” Rhodes said. “The University has failed the students. There was no message, and there was no expediency. It was the most amateur response to an emergency situation one could fathom.”Scott said the situation did not appear threatening initially because of different perceptions.“Initially, it was dispatched as a non-threatening situation,” Scott said. “Initially, it came in as a car parked in the Quad.”Scott said no emergency text messages were sent because initial reports of the event did not present “an immediate response from the community or on an immediate threat to life.”Scott said Erie’s family took custody of the dog.

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