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Police detail string of Chemistry Building arsons after arrest of IU student

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana University police filed 10 counts of arson against a student after police caught her setting parts of the Chemistry Building on fire.

Police said eight trash cans and two doors are fortunately all that was damaged in the arson spree.

The charred marks on a door in the Chemistry Building, 800 E. Kirkwood Ave., are the only remains people can find from several similarly sized fires that damaged eight bathroom trash cans and two doors.

“A lot of them were just put out with a cup of water,” said Shannon Bunger, Indiana University deputy police chief. “But still, it’s someone setting fire, so by Indiana law, that’s arson. So we’re obviously taking it very seriously.”

The first fire on Dec. 3 was started using a pizza box, so that gave university police a clue in their search for the person responsible.

“Unfortunately with 45,000 students on campus, that’s like a needle in a haystack,” Bunger said. “But we had a person of interest. We had a still photo of a female carrying a pizza box from Hodge Hall.”

On Tuesday, officers found 22-year-old Alekhya Koppineni just after police say she started a fire in the Chemistry Building.

“Officers responded and while they were dealing with one fire, another fire had started on the second floor of the Chemistry Building,” Bunger said. “We had the still photo of the female from earlier, from Hodge Hall back on Dec. 3 that the officers had and they were able to spot her. She walked right by one of the officers and they were able to detain her.”

Police say Koppineni admitted to starting the fires and, while they don’t know why she did it, they hope she can get the help she needs.

“We want to take care of them and if they need help, whether it’s mental or with grades or whatever, we’re here to help,” Bunger said. “Because we want to see them come in as freshmen and we want to see them graduate as seniors and go out and represent Indiana University and be proud alumni.”

University police say the investigation is pretty much wrapped up, but they’ll stay in touch with the student, who bonded out of the Monroe County jail.

The Monroe County prosecutor is considering formal criminal charges. A decision could come next week.

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