Extensive vandalism discovered, suspect believed to have ’serious gash’

Published 10:49 pm Saturday, October 14, 2006

A fire this week at a building on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville has been ruled arson and a suspect was being sought.

The fire started Wednesday in the basement of Dorman Hall, which has been closed while the fire investigation continues.

The suspect “kind of went on a rampage and busted a bunch of stuff. He used a fire extinguisher to bust out the doors” and shattered glass, Bill Kibler, vice president for student services, said Friday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Police concluded the broken glass sliced his arm,” Kibler said.

There was blood on the door, throughout the building and in the parking lot before the man drove off, Kibler said.

“We will have DNA from the blood samples, he said.

Authorities said the suspect may have had a “serious gash” on his arm that may have required treatment. They have checked with 13 medical facilities in the area.

“The case is progressing really well,” Oktibbeha County Sheriff Dolph Bryan said Friday. “We’re looking for a conclusion.”

MSU rescheduled classes for nearly 1,000 students to other campus locations for at least the next two weeks, Kibler said. Crews would spend the weekend cleaning up the building, he said.

Fire investigators say the suspect apparently piled up papers next to a wall in the storage room and lit it with a match, Kibler said.

At the time of the fire there were about a half-dozen people in the building, mostly graduate students. No one was hurt. The alarms sounded about 10 p.m., MSU officials say. The fire was put out in about 30 minutes.

Dorman Hall houses the biochemistry, molecular biology and plant and soil sciences departments, including offices for some 200 faculty members and graduate and postdoctoral students, university officials said.

Investigators say a suspect, a 35- to 40-year-old male, weighing 175 to 190 pounds with dark blond or light brown hair was seen near the site of the fire. He was wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt with a red, white and blue skull on the front. He also was seen walking with a female, 25 to 30 years old.