The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Police investigate intruder

Claire Heininger | Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Notre Dame security officials are searching for a male intruder who was reportedly lurking in Pasquerilla West on Sunday morning, frightening residents and vandalizing several areas in the dorm.A resident of the women’s hall said she was in a fourth floor bathroom at approximately 7:05 a.m. when she glanced into the mirror and saw a suspicious person enter the room behind her, said Chuck Hurley, Notre Dame Security/Police assistant director.The man walked into the shower stalls and remained there for a few minutes, where the witness heard him “shuffling around,” Hurley said. After the man exited the shower area, the witness saw him leave the bathroom, walking strangely “as if tipsy or trying to be quiet,” Hurley said.Because she was afraid to follow the man, the resident waited a few minutes before leaving the bathroom, Hurley said, adding that she did not speak to the intruder and said she had never seen him before.The suspect is described as white, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, wearing baggy blue jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt, unshaven and with a sandy blonde buzzed haircut, Hurley said. He was believed to be of college age, NDSP director Rex Rakow said.No evidence was found of forced entry to the dorm, leading police to conclude the suspect was let in or entered through an unlocked door, Hurley said. It was unclear how the man left the dorm, Rakow said, adding that no witnesses reported hearing alarms sound.Several other Pasquerilla West residents later told NDSP officers and hall staff that they had seen the intruder in the hall between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m., Rakow said. NDSP officers assigned to patrol the area at that time did not observe anything suspicious, Hurley said.NDSP was dispatched to the dorm at 3:44 p.m., Hurley said, after the first witness alerted resident assistants to what she had seen. “Obviously the time lag here was fairly substantial,” Hurley said. Though hall staff was aware of the vandalism problem – obsc-ene messages and the words “IU Bloomington” were found scrawled on shower stalls, doors and students’ personal white boards, Hurley said – Sunday morning, the intruder incident did not come to the staff’s attention until that afternoon, Pasquerilla West rector Sister Susan Bruno said.”[At first] a lot of students thought it was a random prank,” she said. “You think it’s someone being malicious – you don’t think it’s wholescale across the dorm.”As more witnesses come forward, hall staff, the Office of Student Affairs and NDSP will continue to piece things together, Bruno said. For now, all residents have been cautioned through a letter and a phone message to stay on high alert about locking room doors, immediately reporting any suspicious activity and not allowing strangers to enter the dorm, she said.Recommending the same precautions, NDSP distributed an alert notice to all 27 residence halls Monday afternoon and sent a campus-wide e-mail Monday night.Rakow said the security officers who patrol the Pasquerilla West area would be on high alert for further suspicious activity, but that no additional officers will be assigned to the area.Several hall residents did not express significant fears as a result of the incident.”It’s not like it’s the first time something like [seeing a suspicious person on campus] has happened,” sophomore Cara Burditt said, adding that the incident seemed like a “fluke” because many residents saw the intruder but no assaults were reported.”It seems like more of a prank to remind us to lock our doors,” she said.Another sophomore, Theresa Kane, agreed with Burditt.”I don’t think it’s a very big deal – a lot of people saw him and it seemed like he didn’t hurt anyone,” she said. “I think everyone is watching for [problems] but there’s no huge disruption here.” Several Pasquerilla West resident assistants declined to comment.