Two students arrested in BCC cotton ball incident

The two were released from the Boone County Jail after posting bond.
Sean D. Fitzgerald Courtesy of the MU Police Department

Two students were arrested on suspicion of hate crimes and second-degree tampering Tuesday for allegedly dropping cotton balls outside the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center last week.

Senior psychology major Zachary Tucker and freshman political science major Sean Fitzgerald were arrested and then released from the Boone County Jail after posting $4,500 in bond.

According to an MU Police Department news release, the two students were arrested at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after receiving an anonymous tip.

In an e-mail to students Wednesday morning, Chancellor Brady Deaton temporarily suspended both Tucker and Fitzgerald for their alleged involvement in the incident.

Deaton said he determined temporary suspension was in the best interest of the university community.

Tucker and Fitzgerald were members of Navy ROTC and had been in the midshipmen program throughout their time at MU, according to a Navy ROTC news release.

Although the Department of Residential Life refused to comment, sophomores Mary Peterson and Leonard Barrett, former residents of Gillett residence hall, said Tucker served as a peer adviser there during the 2008-09 academic year.

The MU directory lists Fitzgerald as a resident of Laws residence hall.

BCC Director Nathan Stephens said he believed MUPD officers did what they felt was necessary.

“I think that for the purposes of campus safety, there is some closure,” Stephens said. “I know some students were bothered by it. There was some relief in that regard.”

Lisa White, Legion of Black Collegians vice president, said she was glad MUPD handled the crime as a serious incident.

“My initial reaction to the arrest was one of surprise,” White said. “Although the incident has received tremendous attention, it can still be seen in many eyes as minor. Instead the MUPD decided to take action and seek out the felons.”

Stay with The Maneater for continued reporting on this story, and read previous reporting here and here.

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