SJSU police investigating arson at 2 campus library bathrooms

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
SJSU police investigating arson at 2 campus library bathrooms
San Jose State University police are investigating two arson attacks on campus at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose State University police are investigating two arson attacks on campus at the school's library.

The first fire was set on Easter and the latest was Monday night.

The smell of burnt plastic lingers on the 8th floor of the San Jose State library after a trash can was set on fire in a bathroom.

The news came as a shock to students we spoke with.

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"It's kind of just scary and I wouldn't assume that anything would happen like that on campus," Miranda Baclig said.

But it's not even the first fire there this week.

University police are investigating arson in two men's bathrooms at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library and officers believe one person started both.

"So, we're talking about someone acting in a suspicious manner," SJSU Police Capt. Frank Belcastro said. "In these cases, the individual entered and exited the restrooms several times. You know, there's paper towels and stuff, so it looks like he piled it and set it on fire."

Captain Belcastro says the man likely in his 20s was caught on surveillance footage leaving the 8th floor bathroom on Monday, April 8 around 6:30 p.m.

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The same person was seen after the Easter fire in the 7th floor bathroom just after 5 p.m.

"The message to the campus community is: if you see something, say something," Belcastro said. "If you see someone acting in a suspicious manner, you should always reach out to UPD."

What's still unknown is whether or not the suspect is a student or a community member.

The upper floors of the library were once exclusive to students, but now all eight floors are open to anyone who visits.

One student tells us he's had issues before.

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"Me personally, I sometimes don't feel safe because I've had some experiences with homeless myself where they come up to me and invade my privacy," Andrew Le said. "So, I think they should do a better job of restricting people."

A look at SJSU crime data shows at least 10 arrests made in the MLK Library in the past month. The reasons vary from anything from vandalism to possession of weapons.

Crime in public libraries is not uncommon, but students say they want to feel safe on campus.

"It's just scary because as a student, I should feel safe here, right?" Le said. "If I'm not allowed to be safe on a campus, in its own building that's supposed to be for students, then how can I feel safe anywhere?"

If you know anything about the fires, you are asked to reach out to SJSU Police at 408-924-2222 or CalFire Arson and Bomb Unit at 213-302-5855 or

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