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Penn State Student Charged With Arson After Setting Shirt On Fire Inside Residence Hall

by Geoff Rushton

A Penn State student is facing felony charges after reportedly setting a shirt on fire early Saturday morning in a campus residence hall.

Penn State Police responded to multiple fire alarm activations at about 3:30 a.m. at McKean Hall in the East Halls residence area. The entire building was evacuated and officers found the contents of a seventh floor hallway trash can actively burning, according to a criminal complaint. The hallway was full of smoke and two officers extinguished the fire.

A resident assistant reportedly told police that he saw Jedidiah Seinfeld, 18, of Skillman, N.J., leaving his room with a burning shirt that Seinfeld then threw into the trash can, causing its contents to catch fire. Police looked in the room, where there was smoke along with lighter fluid and lighters on a desk belonging to Seinfeld.

Witnesses reportedly gave written statements that Seinfeld entered the room, poured lighter fluid on a shirt then lit it on fire before leaving the room and tossing the flaming shirt in a trash can.

Seinfeld voluntarily gave a written statement in which he said he lit the shirt on fire “because he was unhappy,” according to the complaint. He allegedly said that he panicked and ran into the hallway to put it in the garbage can, activating the fire alarms.

He and the other resident of the room gave consent for police to search the room and in addition to the lighter and lighter fluid, officers also allegedly found a bag containing a small amount of marijuana among Seinfeld’s belongings.

Seinfeld was charged with arson endangering an inhabited building and risking catastrophe, both felonies. He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person and possession of a small amount of marijuana.

He was arraigned before District Judge Steven Lachman, with bail set at 10 percent of $20,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15.

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