A recent act of vandalism at an off-campus apartment complex housing hundreds of USC students has left residents fearing for their safety, and questioning the housing management's response.
The LAPD confirmed that there was a report of vandalism at 530 W. 27th Street on Monday, and as of 5:52 p.m. Tuesday, a suspect had been taken into custody, according to an email sent by DPS. The suspect is currently being held by the LAPD, following a mental health evaluation and criminal booking by DPS earlier.
According to residents who spoke with the police, a man with a knife managed to make his way into the West 27th Place apartment complex early Monday morning, and found his way to a fifth-floor study room, which is accessible to all residents.
There, the man wrote a message saying "DARE To bE GR" on the wall, ripped up cushions, carved additional messages such as "I Love My Family" into the wall with a knife, and even tore into the wall, exposing a pipe.
In the group messaging app GroupMe, residents shared Snapchat video of the vandalized study room and voiced concern about how a statement was not released by the apartment complex or the police about the incident.
West 27th Place resident Amy Macrae, a member of this 200-person group chat, expressed her frustration about the lack of details about the events and more information as to whether the issue had been resolved.
"It's definitely scary and really irresponsible of West to not send anyone an email," Macrae said. "You would think that if something like this was happening that we would get an email immediately, but it's definitely scary and there was a rumor that were was two people, so I don't know, you don't really feel safe."
Macrae also spoke to a LAPD officer last night who told her there is an ongoing trespassing investigation. The police described the suspect to Macrae as a white male around his early 30s who may be mentally unstable and possibly wearing a hospital wristband, although an LAPD spokesperson couldn't comment to USC Annenberg Media on an open investigation.
West 27th Place management is under direct orders from the LAPD to not release any information until the investigation was done. However, the management did provide a couple more specifics about the vandalism incident in an email today to specific residents who reached out, such as that it was possibly related to the fire alarm that woke residents up around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.
"Yesterday around 4am we had a transient enter the building from a resident letting them in and unfortunately he vandalized one of the study rooms and was roaming around the building all day. We also suspect he is the one who pulled the fire alarm," West management said in an email.
Though the incident happened early Monday, DPS, which responds to off-campus to incidents at the request of LAPD, posted an entry to their log indicating that its officers responded to an incident involving a suspect with a knife at West 27th. The time entry on the log indicates that DPS responded at 6:25 p.m. — more than 12 hours after the break-in, according to residents. The DPS log says they observed the vandalism, but they could not locate the suspect.
On top of the vandalism, residents who spoke to cops manning the floors of West 27th Monday night, were told there was also a separate incident involving a burglary into one of the apartments. However, no details have been provided to residents regarding that incident either.
Monday night, a number of West 27th residents spent the night elsewhere, concerned for their safety.
This story was updated at 6:42 to include the information presented in an email sent by DPS about the suspect's apprehension.