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The Indiana Daily Student

crime & courts

UPDATE: IU senior arrested following string of arsons on campus


A 21-year-old IU senior was arrested Dec. 17 after setting fire to eight trash cans and two classroom doors on campus in a month.

Alekhya Koppineni was booked into jail the morning of Dec. 18 with 10 felony counts of arson, according to an IUPD press release.

All of the incidents were reported in the last 15 days. 

Koppineni paid her bond on Dec. 18. She is currently out on pretrial supervision. Her initial court hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday.

“To intentionally set fires in occupied buildings to cause panic and possibly injure people is unacceptable behavior,” IUPD Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger said in the release. “At this time, the fires caused only minor property damage but exhausted university and city resources to respond and investigate.” 

Police started investigating after a Dec. 3 fire in Hodge Hall. There was a similar fire Dec. 5 in the Psychology Building. Bunger said Koppineni admitted to one of these fires when arrested Dec. 18, but Bunger said police had enough evidence to charge her with both the Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 fires.

In addition to those two fires, Koppineni allegedly started eight fires Dec. 17. That morning, one fire was reported in Rawles Hall and two were reported in Jordan Hall.

A student found a fire at 10 a.m. in a Rawles Hall women's restroom trash can, according to a crime notification email sent Dec. 17. At 10:13 a.m., students reported fires in Jordan Hall women's restroom trash cans.

Three trash can fires were found Dec. 17 at 1:45 p.m. in bathrooms in the Chemistry Building, Bunger said. He said no fire alarms went off in any of the incidents and the damage was minimal.

Chemistry faculty members put out the fires, and the Bloomington Fire Department and IUPD quickly showed up to the scene, said Jonathan Karty, assistant chair for administration of the chemistry department.

No finals were interrupted because of these fires, Karty said.

Seven of these fires were set in women’s bathroom trash cans. One was set in a men’s bathroom near room 226 of the Chemistry Building, according to court documents. 

More fires were reported in the Chemistry Building the evening of Dec. 17. Police arrived after a fire was reported around 7:45 p.m. This time the fire was set to the door of room C021, according to court documents. 

Bunger said another fire was started while officers were at the building. This fire was set to a door as well according to court documents. 

Police arrested Koppineni 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Chemistry Building. Bunger said she matched a person of interest photo police had from the Hodge Hall fire.

This story was updated at 5:17 p.m. Dec. 23 to include bond and hearing information and details of where the fires took place. 

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