USC Department of Public Safety has begun classifying a series of vandalisms in Bovard Auditorium as arson after another such incident took place Tuesday night.
The suspect "spread hand sanitizer on a counter inside a restroom," according to DPS incident reports, "and set it on fire with a burning paper towel." This is the third in a series of similar incidents to occur in the past two weeks, all involving the use of hand sanitizer or other unknown chemicals to set fire and cause subsequent damage to a restroom in Bovard.
While no one person has been charged, security footage from Bovard has given DPS a "person of interest" to focus on, said Commanding Officer of Patrol Operations, Capt. Edgar Palmer. They don't believe that either case is the responsibility of anyone connected with the university. Rather, an "influx of youth offenders," such as groups of skateboarders that increasingly congregate on campus between 3 to 5 p.m.
Bovard is open to the public until 5 p.m., but janitors begin cleaning bathrooms at 9 or 10 p.m., which has created a wide time frame in which the incidents may have taken place — the latest reported incident occurred sometime between the hours of 4 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.
DPS is currently working with arson investigators at the Los Angeles Fire Department to find a definite suspect and put an end to the series of incidents. However, "the nature and modus operandi that this person is using with paper towels" means that there is no need for safety concerns from students in the meantime, according to Palmer.