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Police Say Penn State Student Damaged And Caused Evacuation Of Residence Hall

A Penn State student is facing felony and misdemeanor charges after he allegedly vandalized and caused the evacuation of a University Park residence hall.

At 4:10 a.m. on Saturday, Penn State police responded to a fire alarm at Hiester Hall and found that the 250-resident dorm had been evacuated. Inside, the eighth floor had sustained “substantial damage,” according to a criminal complaint.

Police observed that the floor and surfaces were covered with fire extinguisher powder. One fire extinguisher was found on the floor and another on the roof. A third — as seen on video surveillance, according to police — was thrown from the eighth floor onto the sidewalk in front of the main entrance. Police said the area has foot traffic at all hours and a fire extinguisher thrown from the eighth floor “could have struck and severely injured or killed a person.”

Discharging a fire extinguisher set off the alarm, police said

Five large windows were broken, with broken glass on the floor, according to the complaint. Other damage allegedly included: a broken door handle; a damaged wooden closet door; an illuminated exit sign ripped from the ceiling; broken glass insets on two doors; metal heating elements ripped out of their housing on a stove, with blood smeared on the stovetop and walls; and a damaged maintenance hatch lock.

Zachary E. Blume, 20, of Hebron, Conn., was seen on video concealing one of the fire extinguishers in a pillow case, according to police. He was allegedly identified by two people in Hiester Hall.

Police contacted Blume at his residence and he allegedly “made a spontaneous statement about damaging property,” then provided a written statement admitting guilt.

Blume was charged with third-degree felony counts of criminal mischief, institutional vandalism and risking a catastrophe, as well as misdemeanor counts of possession of an instrument of crime, false alarm to a public safety agency, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with fire apparatus and disorderly conduct.

He was arraigned before District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker, who set straight monetary bail at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 17.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.


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