BU Police Arrest Suspect in Case of South Campus Intruder
As investigation continues, students are urged to not let their guard down
Boston University Police announced Saturday that they arrested a suspect Friday night who they believe is the same intruder who had gained unauthorized access in recent weeks to several South Campus apartment buildings. The breakthrough marks the second arrest in the ongoing case, says BUPD Chief Kelly Nee, but she added that students “should not let their guard down, and should remain vigilant,” keeping their doors locked and reporting any suspicious activity to police as quickly as possible.
BUPD Detective Lt. Kelley O’Connell, who is leading the investigation, said the two suspects arrested in the last week have similar descriptions and neither has any BU connection. The first suspect, arrested February 23, has been charged with receiving stolen property and the second suspect with trespassing. She said the latest arrest is a strong development. “We cannot say there has only been one person responsible,” she added. “They are similar-looking. And their modus operandi is similar.”
Nee commended the student resident, Zion Kang (CAS’22), who called BUPD Friday night after noticing that the suspect had piggybacked behind him to get into his building, 728 Commonwealth Avenue (at the corner of Comm Ave and St. Mary’s Street). “Without that call we might not have the person in custody,” she said.
BU Today spoke on Saturday to Kang, who said that he had just returned from running a quick errand the night before.
“I left the building around 7:30 pm to buy water at City Convenience,” Kang said. “When I returned, a man was behind me and followed me into the building. I didn’t see his face and just assumed he was a student. But then when he walked past me, I got a glimpse of his face and saw that he was in his 30s—old for a student.”
He said the person walked to the right of the elevator on the first floor and seemed to be behaving suspiciously. “My RA had sent out an email with the description of someone who had been stealing packages and bikes in South Campus, and I realized he fit the description,” Kang said. “He was 5’8” or 5’9” and had on a black hat and a black mask—more like a bandana than a face mask. And he was dressed in dark clothing and had a dark backpack.”
Kang said as soon as he got to his room, he called the BUPD, who arrived within two to five minutes. “They knocked on doors on the first floor and asked students if they had seen anyone fitting that description, and then they went down to the basement and searched there,” he said. He learned later, through an online building group chat, “that BUPD had caught the guy in the lobby.”
O’Connell confirmed that BU police officers arrested the suspect in the building lobby.
The BUPD has been investigating a string of thefts and an instance of lewd exposure at student residences on Mountfort Street and Buswell Street, and police believe the suspect they arrested Saturday could be responsible for those incidents. The suspect’s name was not released Saturday pending his arraignment.
The description of the suspect that Kang gave to BUPD was similar to information BUPD had received about earlier unauthorized entries and breaking-and-entering incidents, including thefts of wallets and clothing, in South Campus undergraduate student residences and at 726-728 Commonwealth Avenue over the past several weeks.
In one of the earlier incidents, a student had reported an intruder in her room shortly after midnight and that the man fled the room; he was then seen by another student exposing himself in a hallway before fleeing in the direction of Arundel Street. That suspect was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, with a medium complexion, facial hair, dark clothes and backpack, and possibly a green baseball cap. (Other incidents occurred January 2, between 1 and 8 am, and the evening of January 30 or early January 31 at 46 Mountfort St.; two incidents the evening of February 2 and the wee hours of February 3 at 6 Buswell St.; and February 6 at 34 Buswell St.
“Through video surveillance in the lobby of 728 Commonwealth Avenue provided by BUPD dispatch to the two BUPD officers who were responding at the scene last night, the suspect was asked by our officers if this was him and he acknowledged it was,” a statement from BUPD said Saturday.
Once he was positively identified, the suspect was arrested for trespassing, taken into custody, and processed at BUPD headquarters before being turned over to Boston Police, which had two outstanding warrants on the man, one for breaking entering and another for assault and battery.
According to the BUPD statement, the suspect initially gave false information at the scene regarding his identity, which he later corrected at BU Police headquarters. The suspect had two hypodermic needles in his possession, as well as a pocket knife.
In a letter sent to residents of South Campus Saturday, David Zamojski, assistant dean of students and director of residence life, urged them to remain vigilant.
“While an arrest has been made, it is important that each community member continue to follow the safety precautions included in recent communications, including emergency alerts and email,” Zamojski wrote.
“Please remember, if you see something, say something.”