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Williamstown Police to Seek Charges Against Thrill Seekers

The following is a news release from the WPD. Dean Roseman’s message is in the extended entry below.

Released April 20, 2007

On Sunday, April 15, 2007 at approximately 12:42 am, members of the
Williamstown Police Department responded to a report of suspicious
activity discovered by Williams College Safety & Security. Police
officers found evidence there that a homemade explosive device had
been assembled in the southwest corner of the college’s Cole Field
remote area well away from any buildings. The device had been
ignited, but failed to burn.

An investigation by the Williamstown Police Department, with
assistance from both the Massachusetts State Police and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation and in conjunction with Williams College
Safety & Security, identified three individuals responsible for
constructing and lighting the material.

All three, who are students at Williams College, cooperated with the
investigation. Their intent was not to cause damage or injury but to
pursue their curiosity about such a device. They will be summoned to
North Adams District Court on charges of Possession of an Infernal
Machine and Disorderly Conduct. They also face possible sanction
from Williams College.

Specifics regarding the device and the materials used to construct it
will not be released to the public.

“Possession of an Infernal Machine” to me suggests either owning an oven or getting mad at your computer, but here it means “making a homemade bomb.”


Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2007 09:20:29 -0400 (EDT)
From: Nancy.A.Roseman@williams.edu
To: williams-students@williams.edu, williams-faculty@williams.edu, williams-staff@williams.edu
Subject: Report on a Campus Incident

To the Williams Community,

I want to share with you this release from the Williamstown Police
Department regarding an incident on campus. This may be a hard time
to receive such news but I think the release describes the situation
sensitively and well. The College’s investigation is ongoing.

Regards,
Nancy Roseman
Dean of the College

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#1 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

“Hey Beavis”

“Yeah, Butthead, what?”

“I got a great idea….”

“What, Butthead?”

“Let’s get really really drunk and build a bomb!”

“Heh, heh, yeah….that’s a great idea!”

#2 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

And, can anyone really imagine why a press release on a student bomb making project should be “sensitive”? Seems to me that any students doing something this stupid could probably benefit from a little less “sensitivity”.

#3 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

And, on the subject of sensitivity, I think a very sensitive punishment would be suspension from Williams with reenstatement possible after completion of boot-camp and tour of duty in Iraq, where the young lads can learn that building bombs is so “not funny”.

#4 Comment By frank uible On April 20, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

Baroque title for the offense. Give the kids a some small slack – they were immature, foolish and full of hormones and also probably beer. Sounds as if the punishment will fit the crime.

#5 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

Slack? For building an Improvised Explosive Device? Post 9/11? What planet do they live on? I know that cable news channels are available in Williamstown.

I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think it does these kids, or any other kids, any favors to sweep it under the rug.

#6 Comment By frank uible On April 20, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

All depends what one means by slack.

#7 Comment By Anonymous On April 20, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

Building an IED in a field “for fun” is one thing. Building an IED in a populated area to cause harm is another. Obviously what these students did was stupid, irresponsible, etc, etc. However, it does not appear to have been malicious in just about any way.

I agree with Frank–give the kids some slack. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be punished…but I don’t think the sort of vitriol we see coming out of hwc right now is necessary.

#8 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

Building an IED in a field “for fun” is one thing. Building an IED in a populated area to cause harm is another.

How are the police supposed to know? If you’ve noticed, law enforcement and SWAT teams are a little jumpy about bombs in the post 9-11 world. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some of the brightest young adults in the United States to be capable of understanding the…uh…sensitivity of the situation.

Here’s the way I see it. Students, reasonably IMO, expect colleges to treat them like adults. I’m all for that. The flip side is that they have to be held, more or less, to the standards of adults. Alcohol is not an excuse.

If any alum on EphBlog assembled a bomb in a field behind an apartment building, we would be in jail so fast it would make your head spin. We’d be lucky if we weren’t packed off to Gitmo.

#9 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 8:26 pm

BTW, it’s not “vitriol”. It’s givin’ ’em hell for being idiots. What, students build an improvised bomb and we are supposed to be nurturing of the poor babies and protective their feelings? Come ‘on.

The problem is that knuckleheads don’t catch enough hell for acting like idiots, so by the time they are 20, they still don’t stop and think.

#10 Comment By Brent On April 20, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

Posession of an Infernal Machine?

STUDENTS CAUGHT MAKING INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL, APPARENTLY TRYING TO CATCH HELL

#11 Comment By Anonymous On April 20, 2007 @ 9:23 pm

“we are supposed to be nurturing of the poor babies and protective their feelings?”

No–obviously we should be punishing these students! …but people make mistakes and given an apparent non-malicious intent, we shouldn’t go overboard here. If an alum on EphBlog assembled a bomb–obviously for shits and giggles–in a large field in a rural area, I would be advocating exactly what I am now: a limited punishment.

#12 Comment By frank uible On April 20, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

We pardon Richard Nixon. We give amnesty to Vietnam era draft dodgers. How about one year of probation from the Commonwealth and the College for these knuckleheads, provided that the facts are not substantially worse than they appear on their face?

#13 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 10:17 pm

I don’t think one year of probation from the College is enough. I think the College owes it to its students to remove drunk bomb makers from campus for a period of time. That’s really unacceptable behavior and the College needs to make that abundantly clear, IMO. I’d go for a one year suspension (or maybe voluntary leave) with conditions for re-entry. Think about if they had managed to blow up Tyler Annex — with my kid in it.

There’s no point in even hazarding a guess on the legal consequences. Probation, along with community service, probably makes sense there.

#14 Comment By hwc On April 20, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

Oops. That should be Agard House, not Tyler Annex. Apparently once was not enough.

From the Record:

“The Williamstown Police Department (WPD) is currently investigating the cause of the two fires, the first of which was found on the driveway of Agard House and the second on Cole Field. The fire near Agard was reported to the WPD when an Officer at the College noticed it at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday. Almost 24 hours later, WPD was again sent to the scene when an Officer found a small fire on the southwest corner of Cole Field.”

#15 Comment By Anonymous On April 21, 2007 @ 12:24 am

Stupid. Whole thing is stupid. I feel for these kids. Caught up in stupid hysteria and slammed for doing nothing, friggin NOTHING. These students did what wrong, exactly? What a joke!

#16 Comment By Anonymous On April 21, 2007 @ 12:37 am

oh, and by the way hwc, if you think this is a reason why young men should go (be forced) to enlist in our armed forces, well, perhaps you have not a clue about the sacrifice or will it takes to serve our country during a time of war. It is not a silly punishment game. These kids were playing a game. Check yourself.

#17 Comment By Anonymous On April 22, 2007 @ 11:15 am

Making a bomb in a field is one thing, in the middle of the frosh quad would be a different thing. I don’t see what the big deal is with these kids playing, more or less, in an uninhabited area (I’d expect major punishment if the event occured in a well-populated area, but come on!).

#18 Comment By Anonymous On April 22, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

They should have cleaned up after themselves.

#19 Comment By Ronit On April 22, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

These students would probably be in prison by now if they were Muslim immigrants from an Arab country. The terrorists from Detroit spent months in prison for taking a video of Disneyland

#20 Comment By Anonymous On April 23, 2007 @ 12:51 am

Ronit- What is your point? Is it wrong for these students to be treated fairly when others have not? Is the inequality in our justice system somehow their fault? The privaleged should always be punished harshly (unfairly) because some others have?
What is your point Ronit? If your point is that justice should be equal and fair, and that the Muslims from Detriot were not treated with equal fairness, then your beef is with how they were treated unfairly, not with how these students are being treated.

#21 Comment By rory On April 23, 2007 @ 9:37 am

maybe that is ronit’s point exactly. if we think these students should be given a slap on the wrist, then so should those muslim immigrants. and it is telling that i’m very sure a lot of people in our country wouldn’t agree with that.

#22 Comment By Anonymous On April 23, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

Rory- But the inequalities in our justice system are well known by everyone who blogs here. If this was a case where he was supporting stricter punishment for these students, perhaps he would have a point on this specific case.
However, making the “point” that justice is not blind and has a lot to do with peoples status and wealth in our country, is not very revealing. That is why I am curious as to where he is headed with the argument.

#23 Comment By rory On April 23, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

well, anonymous, i have to disagree with you on the assumption that those who read this blog agree that those inequalities exist and that they should be considered at moments like these.

we get hundreds of unique hits a day, the williams community has recently shown some…ignorant…pockets, and i hadn’t seen the point made yet in roughly 20 comments before ronit’s.

#24 Comment By Anonymous On May 3, 2007 @ 11:24 am

Now this is a bad explosive device: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/us/03elf.html?ref=us.