By Justin Toney
Outside Alvey Hall Tuesday, junior Emma Clarkson approached a group of students gathered around a police officer who was handing out forms. After inquiring about the gathering, Clarkson learned that numerous bicycle tires had been slashed the night before.
Upon checking her week-old bicycle, Clarkson discovered that both tires had been punctured with what appeared to be a pocketknife.
“It increased my stress level from 70 percent to 90 percent, because that’s my only form of transportation except my legs,” Clarkson said. She added, “This is the most inconvenient thing.”
Clarkson’s was one of the 37 bicycles chained between Alvey and Arrington Halls Tuesday night that had one or both of their tires punctured.
Assistant Director of Residence Life Natalie Ellis sent a letter to Residence Life staff Tuesday afternoon that named and pictured a man who was apprehended by police in the vecinity that night.
The letter warned students to contact police if they saw Travis Allen Davis of Locust Grove, Va.– a man who has been barred from campus.
“Do not attempt to confront him yourself,” said Area Director Cynthia Richards in a letter to her staff in Alvey and Arrington Halls.
The letter was sent to all residential buildings, and does not explicitly say that Davis is suspected of slashing the bicycle tires.
Police Chief James Snipes would neither confirm nor deny that Davis is a suspect in the case, but said he would not rule him out.
At 12:24 a.m. Tuesday, Sgt. Sharon Mullen and Officer Jeff Perry issued Davis a trespass warning after police discovered him near Jepson Hall.
They were responding to a report from an Alvey Hall resident that Davis had threatened her.
Even though they were in the vicinity, police personnel had no knowledge of the slashed tires until the first report at 10:05 a.m. that morning.
There is not sufficient evidence to make an arrest, according to Snipes.
Snipes had no idea as to the culprit’s motivation.
“It seems like someone’s upset or angry about something, or just being destructive,” Snipes said. “I mean, why do kids go out and smash mailboxes?”
Snipes said that he strongly believes this is an isolated incident. He went on to add that police have been instructed to be more aware of bicycles since last Tuesday.
The case is still under investigation.
Students like freshman Garrett Bethmann, who had both of his tires slashed, have yet to report the incident to police.
Bethmann was upset by the damage even though it caused him only a small inconvenience.
“It’s pretty disheartening,” said Bethmann. He added, “It’s not that big.”