Baker students arrested for fire alarm pranks
It may or may not have been intended as an April Fool's Day prank, but three Baker University students ended up in hot water Tuesday as a result of false fire alarms.
Sgt. Greg Schiffelbein of the Baldwin City Police Department wasn't sure if it was intended as a prank on the first day of April, but he knows four fire alarms being pulled at two Baker residence halls and two fraternity houses within a 13-minute span was wild.
"It wasn't a fun one," said Schiffelbein. "It was very busy for awhile. It was crazy. You had firemen going everywhere checking it out. They've got to."
Fire alarms were pulled first at Gessner Hall at 12:45 a.m., Irwin Hall at 12:47 a.m., the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at 12:50 a.m. and the Delta Tau Delta house at 12:58 a.m. By the time Schiffelbein responded to the Delt house alarm he had a description and car tag number for a vehicle seen at all four locations.
After a few calls, he knew where the suspects were. Two Delta Delta Delta sorority house members, both seniors, one 22 and the other 21, were arrested and taken to Douglas County Jail. A third, a 20-year-old sophomore, was cited Tuesday afternoon after additional investigation. All three face disorderly conduct charges, he said.
It was the result of a wild ride for Schiffelbein. He was responding to an unrelated incident near the Baker campus that involved two Baldwin City teens. A 19-year-old man was arrested for battery and minor in possession of alcohol. A 17-year-old girl was cited for MIP.
"That's when the fire alarms started," he said. "A Douglas County deputy had to be dispatched to the first call because I was on the other call. Then I'm responding to all the calls with the firemen that were happening within minutes of each other.
"The firemen were spread pretty thin responding to all of the calls," said Schiffelbein. "Witnesses gave a description of a possible car involved with the people pulling fire alarms."
That led to the arrests. He said that after talking to the city prosecutor, it was decided to go with the disorderly conduct charges instead of more serious charges of making a false alarm.
"That seemed to be the right charge, based on the circumstances," said Schiffelbein, adding that the three women will have municipal court dates in May.
But, that won't be all the trouble they face. Baker officials will also be taking a look at the situation, said Baker Spokesman Steve Rottinghaus.
"This was a major inconvenience for more than 100 students and the Baldwin City Fire Department," said Rottinghaus, adding that the four buildings had to be evacuated. "A judicial process is in place and administrators will meet next week to discuss the students' status."
There were no fires at any of the locations. Police met with Baker officials Tuesday to discuss the situation.
Police Chief Mike McKenna said the women will suffer from the prank.
"Yes, you don't cry wolf and expect not to pay any consequences," McKenna said.