Edison man charged with arson at Rutgers University building

A 21-year-old Edison man was charged on Christmas day with setting fire to a hallway and classroom at a building at the school’s Busch Campus in Piscataway.

Shayam Sridhar was charged with a second-degree count of aggravated arson for setting the fire at the Allison Road Classroom (ARC) Building at 618 Allison Road in Piscataway on December 20, 2014.

Sridhar was charged early today 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. He had signed up to return to classes in January.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone set bail at $75,000 for Sridhar, who was being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey thanked police for their work on the case.

“I commend the efforts of the local law enforcement agencies that coordinated their efforts to apprehend the defendant,” said Carey. “These agencies include the Rutgers Police Department, the Edison Police Department, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. These dedicated members of law enforcement spent time away from their own families and friends, in order to protect and serve our citizens during the holidays.”

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 the hallway and the adjoining classroom on the second floor of the ARC Building at 1:03 p.m. on December 20, 2014.

The flash fire set off an alarm, forcing the evacuation of 210 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 investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Giese of the Rutgers University Police Department at (848) 933-8025, or Detective O’Malley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3908.

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