- May 25, 2010
http://www.wnep.com/wnep-mon-university ... 7836.story
An East Stroudsburg University student has been charged with setting seven fires in a dormitory where he was a resident advisor.
Both students and university officials said Tuesday they are shocked.
Students said they can't believe one of their R.A.s hired to look after them risked their lives by setting fires.
Police said the accused arsonist admitted to the crimes Tuesday morning.
Ryan Burke, 19, is facing several charges, the most serious is arson.
Police said Burke admitted setting a total of seven fires on two different nights in Hawthorn Residence Hall, the dorm where he was an R.A.
Many students living in Hawthorn Hall said they can't believe one of their R.A.s has been charged with setting fires throughout the dorm.
"I know he would never do this. He's a sweet guy, a generally good guy, a good-hearted guy. I honestly don't believe this," said sophomore Alina Sierra.
"I'm really surprised. It's shocking," said freshman Chelsea Bauder.
Burke is a sophomore at East Stroudsburg University. According to court papers, he admitted setting the fires.
Students who said he is their R.A. are in disbelief.
"If he really did start the fires why would he try so hard to get all these residents out? After so many times doing this you would think he would want to harm us, so why would he try so hard. This kid almost broke his leg trying to save us," Sierra added.
"I wouldn't have expected it because he was so willing to help others and he was a friendly, out-going person," said freshman Judith Goda.
Police said last Friday firefighters found two piles of clothes on fire in the laundry area on the ground floor of Hawthorn Residence Hall.
They also found fires burning in trash cans in bathrooms on the first, second and third floors.
Then, around 3 a.m. there were two more fires on the third floor, one in a trash can and another in the women's bathroom.
Three hundred students were forced out of the dorm.
University officials have been sending out e-mails, letting parents know information about the fires. University officials said they are deciding what to do with Burke.
"He will be expelled. He will be dismissed," said university spokesperson Douglas Smith. "It's shocking and it's something you hate to see."
Burke, who is from London, England, is in the Monroe County jail.
The university police chief said there was another fire two weeks ago in the basement of Hawthorn Hall. Police are now investigating that fire to see if it is connected to Burke, who told police he is not responsible.