Police respond to suspicious person in fraternity house

Allegheny College Public Safety and Meadville City Police were called to investigate a report of a suspicious man entering the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house on Highland Avenue around 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14.

The man was able to gain access to the house through the main doors which, according to Colt Scronce, ’18, who lives inside the house, were malfunctioning and therefore were not locked at the time.

Meadville City Police said they could not release any information as of midnight on Tuesday, March 14, and Public Safety Officer Benjamin Rogers said the college does not comment on active investigations.

“Director [of Public Safety Ali Awadi] apologizes, but this is an active investigation and I cannot comment at this time,” Rogers said.

Scronce said he and Taylor Dias, ’19, were meeting in the lounge of the house when the unknown man entered, claiming to be looking for his girlfriend and waiting for his friend. Scronce said the man, who appeared to be between 24 and 25 years of age, walked around the first floor of the house for between two and three minutes.  

“That was the most absurd part. The dude, not looking in a good place, upset [and] standing there. He’s not a student, his missing girlfriend isn’t a student, his buddy isn’t a student,” Scronce said. “So how did you end up here? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Scronce said they grew concerned when it became clear the man was not a student and did not appear to know anyone at the college. Rachel Gomersall, ’18, was inside the house when the incident occurred. She said Awadi later told people inside the house that the man was from Saegertown, Pennsylvania, and not from Meadville.

Scronce and Dias said it was at this point they made the decision to call public safety and asked him to leave the house.

“I told him security was on its way and that he should probably leave,” Dias said.

After fraternity members called public safety, officers responded “decently quick,” according to Scronce. He said Meadville police officers responded to the scene within three to four minutes after public safety.

The man seemed agitated, Scronce said, but left the house when asked to by the fraternity members.

“He didn’t appear impaired in any way to me except, you know, emotionally,” Scronce said.

Scronce said that after the man left the house, he got into a black Ford F-150 that he had parked in the house’s parking lot. He said the man then moved the truck onto Highland Avenue where he parked in front of the house. Since the vehicle was no longer on college property, Meadville police were called to respond.

Members of public safety, according to Scronce, drove past the vehicle several times and one parked directly behind it when Meadville police arrived at the scene. He said a Meadville police officer then parked directly in front of the vehicle.

Scronce said police then performed a field sobriety test on the man and determined he was not under the influence. Police allowed the man to drive away after performing this test, Scronce said.

Scronce said officers found a 9 mm pistol on passenger’s side of the man’s truck, but he said police told him the gun was licensed to the man. The man was not carrying the pistol when he entered the house, according to Scronce.

Awadi told members of the fraternity to lock their windows, and members have also taken steps to surveil entrances overnight, according to Scronce. Awadi told The Campus that public safety would be increasing patrols around the area.

There have also been other incidents of suspicious people on campus recently, though it is not clear if any of the people involved are the same. The college crime log, dated March 13, records two reports of suspicious people on campus — one near a college house and another near 314 Loomis St. — on Feb. 23. Two students were also assaulted on Feb. 22 outside Ford Memorial Chapel by two unknown men.

Public safety sent a “timely warning” email to the student body at 12:51 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15, alerting students of the incident and encouraging students to contact them immediately if they saw people acting suspiciously “in or around” campus.