Vandalism suspects face prison

Two students charged with vandalizing the School of Architecture’s building could face prison time for smearing cooking oil throughout the building.

Freshmen David Mathews, 19, of Tallahassee and Julian Wimbush, 19, of Pittsburgh were charged with criminal mischief of more than $1,000. The Big Bend Crime Stoppers was flooded with tips on the case. The students were brought in for questioning after an investigation by the FAMU Police Department.

University spokeswoman LaNedra Carroll said the students were arrested after they made statements to police.

“Because of the information provided, they were able to bring in the people we believe to be responsible for the crime,” Carroll said.

If convicted of the third-degree felony charge, Mathews and Wimbush could receive up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

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Doug Paul, an investigator with the State Attorney’s office, said many people speculate that small offenses may be charged quicker because of bio terrorism fears.

“Prosecutors are not going to go after them any harder than they would have before Sept. 11,” he said.

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According to officials in Tallahassee and Pittsburgh, this is the first offense for both students.

“There is no question that we’re all relieved that is was an act of vandalism and not something much more serious,” Carroll said.(reads funny! Is something missing?)

On Feb. 19, the Architecture building was closed when janitors found what appeared to be a slick, oily substance on the floors, on chalkboards and the main staircase. The building was closed for three days while officials waited on test results to determine if the substance posed a threat to staff and students.

Both students were taken to the Leon County Jail. Mathews was released after posting $1,000 bond Wimbush, who was also in on $1,000 bond, was set free for a pre-trial release.

Dean of Architecture, Rodner Wright, said the students visited him Monday to express remorse for their actions.

“It was a prank and, as most students aren’t, they weren’t aware of the context where they do things,” he said. “I’m saddened by the fact that what happened could end up being responsible for the interruptions of their own careers.”