Maryland college officer charged with setting fires on campus


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(NewsNation) — A University of Maryland, Baltimore County police officer was arrested and charged with arson for allegedly setting four fires on campus, according to media reports.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Walter Tyrone Christopher, 36, was arrested Tuesday at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County by the State Fire Marshal and university police.

On Monday, Christopher was indicted by a Baltimore County grand jury on 12 counts of felony and misdemeanor malicious burning, malicious destruction of property and arson. He reportedly did this while on duty as a campus police officer.

The indictment, according to the Baltimore Sun, states that Christopher set fires to several places on the college campus, including a library, an all-gender restroom, men’s restrooms, a second-floor office and chemistry building.

Investigators were initially called for just two trash cans on fire inside one of the college buildings, then a few weeks later, there were two more arson cases in two different buildings, Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire told local station WBAL-TV.

After books and billboards started going up in flames in more buildings, police began noticing one officer was responding to each one of them, WBAL-TV reported. Suspicion only grew after fire alarms would go off, and the first officer to the scene would be Christopher.

“That kind of spurred our interest and that kind of kicked off where we need to look into this a little bit more,” Alkire said.

Christopher was arrested after investigators followed cellphone and IT records, and noticed a pattern, according to WBAL-TV.

According to the Sun, Christopher does not have an attorney and is currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines.

In a statement, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County said Christopher had been on the force for two years.

Christopher has been suspended and moved to non-officer status pending an outcome in his trial, the statement said, according to WMAR-2 News.

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