NEW DETAILS: Suspected UT dorm fire arsonist in custody

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) A UT student has been arrested in connection with arson in his own residence hall.

18 year old Christopher Hooper was arrested around 1:30 this afternoon for setting a fire in a Greve Hall elevator last night.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford has more.

Hooper is a freshman who actually lives here in Greve Hall.

He is charged with aggravated arson, a class a felony, and reckless endangerment.

He is in jail right now on a $15,000 dollar bond.

His future is up in the air.

Keith Lambert, the UT-PD Captain says, "there was no actual structural damage to anything but there were apparently some papers or some items in an elevator that were set on fire."

Intentionally set by Christopher Hooper in his own hall.

Despite the minimal smoke damage, hundreds of Greve Hall residents were evacuated around 11:30 Sunday night.

Katie Wade, a Greve Hall resident says, "I was in my room studying and then our RA had to come and bang on all of our doors."

Brent Seymour, with KFD says, "anytime you have a fire in an occupied dwelling you certainly have a huge risk for loss of life or at least injuries."

Fortunately no one was hurt.

But the 18 year old now faces aggravated arson and reckless endangerment.

Seymour continues, "if their convicted of a crime like this, you're looking at several years in prison."

Lambert says, "this is no way shape or form a prank, and something like this we take very very seriously. It won't be tolerated at all."

The Knoxville Fire Department says surveillance cameras in the Greve Hall hallways and elevators caught Hooper's act on tape.

Lambert continues, "those are a critical step for us, a critical measure that we have in place, for us to take steps to protect the students."

Chris Rosson, a hall resident says, "it's a little shocking to think that someone would actually do that."

Some students say UT police need to work harder to stop another arsonist from striking on campus again.

Kevin Wang, a Greve Hall resident says, "I think UT-PD just needs to step up to the plate and have more patrols."

Lambert continues, "we have very comprehensive responses to every fire alarm or any fire that occurs here on campus, if we make an example out of a few people, I think its less likely people will continue with this type of behavior."

Investigators say it was a peice of paper in the elevator's ceiling fan that hooper set on fire.

Hooper will go through a separate student judicial hearing with UT.

Until that outcome, he is still considered a student here even though he is in jail right now.




 
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