MPD arrests six AU students

Metropolitan Police arrested six American University students in a late-night raid of four dormitories Thursday. All six students were released, and four are barred from campus.

MPD Sgt. Joe Gentile said the police recovered more than $15,000 in cash, a car, opium and marijuana.

MPD could not confirm the amount of drugs recovered.

Gentile also confirmed the possibility of additional arrests in the next few days, but he said he could not speculate on how many.

The raid, which came at the culmination of a two-month long investigation, left some students at the nearby campus shocked.

Students described a scene of MPD officers, some in Drug Enforcement Agency jackets and some in ski masks, storming through the hallway and ransacking rooms.

“They were ripping through their mattresses. One of the guys’ roommates, who didn’t even deal, had his desk and room torn apart,” said freshman Deanna Moldoon, a resident of Anderson Hall’s fifth floor, where some of the raids took place.

Freshman Megan Treiber said opium use rose sharply before winter break and dropped off.

“You’d walk down the hall, and all you would smell is opium,” Treiber said.

The university’s reluctance to release information has left many students angry.

“It isn’t that people are up in arms, but people have heard things, and the administration has not responded yet. There is serious discontent with what happened,” said Eric Wagner, a reporter for the American University student newspaper who covered the story.

Will Hicks, a graduate student who also attended American as an undergraduate, said the university is generally tight-lipped about information.

“The university never tells you things,” Hicks said. “It’s just how they handle things.”

AU spokesman Todd Sedmark declined to answer questions concerning the University’s communication with students about the incident.

Aside from a short, two-sentence press release, the University has not
provided any information, students said. A copy of the press release was e-mailed to students Friday afternoon and is available on the AU Web site.

The release says the raid occurred, six students have been detained and the school has a zero-tolerance drug policy.

The release also confirms that MPD is continuing to investigate.

Junior Julie Fishman, a fifth-floor residential assistant, said she had no prior knowledge of the raid.

“I’m kind of upset that I don’t have some of the info. I should know what’s going on with my residents,” Fishman said.

Fishman also said students approached her with questions about the incident, but she had few answers because the university has offered no details.

Sedmark confirmed the university referred the drug case to MPD.

“Violations of American University’s student conduct code, which are also violations of federal and local law, may be referred to judgment off campus,” he said.

MPD declined to comment on whether similar investigations are underway at other D.C.-area universities.

The five arrested students facing marijuana-related charges are Benjamin Bregman, Benjamin Cole, Ben Gelt, Mati Kerpen and Alexandr Radosav, according to The Washington Post.

Students at Anderson Hall said although the arrested students were known drug dealers, they maintained good relationships with other residents.

Freshman Lauren Bagley, another fifth-floor resident, said she is not surprised the students were arrested because of the size of their operation.

“I have a lot of sympathy because they were good guys, but they brought it upon themselves,” Bagley said.

Moldoon said she was appalled by the behavior of some of the officers.

“They were going through . pictures and private things, and that had nothing to do with the investigation. The police were laughing at them, and that’s not right,” Moldoon said.

MPD officials could not be reached for comment on the conduct of the officers.

The roommate of one arrested student said that while he understands that the students broke the law, the raid could have been carried out with more respect.

“They were pretty disrespectful with their search warrant. They tore my room up, and I had to clean it up myself,” said the roommate, who wished to remain anonymous.

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