NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced that a grand jury handed up a 10-count indictment today charging a former Rutgers University student with setting fire to a campus building and endangering 206 people who were in the building when the blaze was set.
Shayam Sridhar, 21, of Edison was charged with six counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated arson and one count each of causing widespread injury or damage and criminal mischief for setting the fire at the Allison Road Classroom (ARC) Building at 618 Allison Road on the Busch Campus in Piscataway on December 20, 2014.
The indictment was handed up in New Brunswick following a presentation to the grand jury by Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Scott LaMountain.
Sridhar initially was charged on December 25, 2014 during an investigation by Detective Todd Giese of the Rutgers University Police Department and Detective Todd O’Malley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. The defendant had been a student at Rutgers, but left during the fall term last year.
Sridhar was charged after Officer David Tingle of the Edison Police Department identified the defendant from a photo obtained during the investigation.
The investigation determined that Sridhar set fire to a 30-foot section of a hallway and an adjoining classroom on the second floor of the ARC Building at 1:03 p.m.
The flash fire set off an alarm, forcing the evacuation of 206 people, including students who were taking a final exam in a first-floor auditorium located beneath the burning hallway. No one was injured.
The fire was extinguished by an overhead sprinkler, but damaged portions of the hallway and the classroom. Subsequent clean-up and repairs cost $250,000.
The grand jury filed two counts of aggravated arson, contending Sridhar damaged the college building and endangered the people inside the building.
The grand jury also handed up six counts of attempted murder, charging the defendant purposely attempted to cause the deaths of a student who was studying on the second floor, as well as a professor and four proctors who were monitoring the test as it was being administered on the first floor.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, Sridhar is presumed innocent until proven guilty.