By Abby Wargo
Senior Steven McDonnell, 21, has been charged with threat to commit arson after allegedly threatening several students, faculty members, and a Department of Public Safety officer, according to Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick.
McDonnell was arrested by the Chestertown Police Department around midnight Tuesday, Dec. 5 after three students made reports concerning McDonnell to Public Safety.
“The information coming from these students involved very serious threats to the Washington College community,” said Roderick. “We mobilized a group of resources to start dealing with the situation that was unfolding.”
Roderick said that once the threats were verified to be credible, Public Safety consulted the Chestertown Police Department. A warrant for his arrest was issued around 8:30-9 p.m. Tuesday evening.
After putting a safety plan in place for the campus, the search for McDonnell began. Public Safety officers found his car parked on a street adjacent to campus at 11:30 p.m., and at 11:45 Chestertown Police officers accompanied Public Safety into the library and took McDonnell into custody. His bond was set at $5,000, and he posted bail early Wednesday morning.
Roderick sent out a campus-wide email at 12:30 a.m. which said that a student had been making threats but no one was harmed, and that the student was arrested and taken into custody. A follow-up email was sent the next day at 6:16 p.m., which said that the student “has been charged with threatening arson” and had been released on bond earlier in the day.
According to court records, the College, two students, and Dr. Melissa Deckman, chair and professor of political science, were granted peace orders Wednesday. Peace orders ensure that the defendant cannot contact them in any way or go near them at their residence, school, or place of work.
In court records obtained by The Elm, Dr. Deckman said that McDonnell threatened her and her family in front of several students.
Roderick said that McDonnell has been cooperating “to some degree,” and he’s been very cooperative with Public Safety’s requests to separate from campus.
Lt. John Dolgos of the Chestertown Police Department said that a charge of an arson threat carries, at worst, a 10-year sentence with a $10,000 fine.
Molly Igoe, news editor, contributed to this report