Crime

WWU Police arrest student suspected in string of racist, homophobic vandalism on campus

The Wright’s Triangle sculpture near the Ross Engineering Building on the Western Washington University campus had a racial epithet scrawled on it last weekend — one of several locations on campus that were vandalized recently with homophobic and racist messages and threats of sexual violence. The graffiti has since been removed and police are investigating.
The Wright’s Triangle sculpture near the Ross Engineering Building on the Western Washington University campus had a racial epithet scrawled on it last weekend — one of several locations on campus that were vandalized recently with homophobic and racist messages and threats of sexual violence. The graffiti has since been removed and police are investigating. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Western Washington University student from Gold Bar has been arrested in connection with last week’s string of on-campus vandalism that included racist and homophobic slurs and a threat of sexual violence.

A WWU Campus Advisory announcing the arrest Monday said the student was a resident at the Birnam Wood campus apartments and he is no longer allowed at any university housing and dining halls. WWU Police will continue to investigate.

According to Whatcom County Jail records, WWU Police booked Shayne Robert Merwin, 20, into Whatcom County Jail on Sunday under suspicion of residential burglary.

Merwin is scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court at 3 p.m. Monday, according to court records.

According to a city of Gold Bar release on July 18, 2017, Merwin was presented with the 2017 Mayor’s Youth Achievement Award for his community service.

Nine name tags on residents’ rooms on four floors at the Nash Residence Hall and a stairwell in the hall were vandalized on Nov. 18, according to a previous campus advisory. The following day, a racial epithet was scrawled on the Wright’s Triangle sculpture near the Ross Engineering Building and a poster in front of Arntzen Hall also was defaced with racist language.

One additional racist word was found Nov. 19 on a pillar at Fairhaven College, WWU Communications Director Paul Cocke told The Bellingham Herald in an email the next day.

All of the vandalism, which according to Monday’s campus alert targeted the African-American, Latino, Japanese and LBGTQ+ communities, has been removed.

“I am deeply troubled that hateful and bigoted vandalism by cowardly individuals continues to happen here, in a place where we should all feel safe and welcomed,” WWU President Sabah Randhawa said in a letter to the campus community last week.

“I want to be perfectly clear: hate has absolutely no place on our campus. I am deeply saddened that several of our students saw these upsetting scenes.”

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