UPDATE: Arson attack on Langara College was planned and deliberate
Suspect said nothing during brief court appearance
Correction April 3, 2019: A previous version of this story stated that there was fire and water damage in the library. In fact, the confirmed damage was only in the T Building. There was only fire and water damage, and no significant structural damage.
The arson attack at Langara College on Monday was planned, and there was no indication the suspect charged had any signs of mental health issues, The Voice has learned.
A source close to the investigation also told The Voice that the attack was deliberate and that suspect Nasradin Abdusamad Ali sent an electronic taunt to the college after two incendiary devices detonated in the T Building on campus.
Ali, a Langara student, appeared in Vancouver provincial court Tuesday afternoon charged with arson after police evacuated the campus Monday, following several fires and the discovery of incendiary devices.
The 23-year-old was charged with one count of possession of an incendiary device and one count of arson Tuesday morning. He was arrested in Surrey by transit police Monday afternoon.
Vancouver police say additional charges are expected.
Ali, dressed in a blue jumpsuit, made a brief appearance at Vancouver provincial court after being held overnight in custody. He is scheduled to make another appearance next week.
He didn’t say anything during his brief appearance in court.
Const. Jason Doucette said the motive is currently unclear. But police received no prior warning regarding the student.
Police say Ali had placed at least three incendiary devices, two of them with ignition devices attached. The ignition of two of these devices were responsible for starting the fires.
“We located at least one more device, and our bomb disposal unit neutralized that at the scene,” Doucette said.
Ali was previously charged in January of 2018 for one count of uttering a threat and one count of theft under $5,000. Those charges were stayed.
Mahen Krishnakumar, a second-year bioinformatics student, was on the fifth floor of the T Building when he saw a fire erupt in a hallway near the stairs. Krishnakumar said he was only a few feet away from the blaze and that it appeared to be spreading towards him.
“It was close enough that we were able to feel the warmth,” Krishnakumar said. He called the experience “terrifying and kind of nightmarish.”
“It’s something that’s going to be hard for me to forget,” he said.
Zach Sheppard, first-year general studies student, said when the alarm went off around 11:30 a.m. Monday, no one knew exactly what was happening.
“We passed the third floor. And I saw, like, the third floor one corner was just completely smoke and sprinklers were going off. And one of the teachers was hastily getting everyone—with urgency—out the door, like yelling at people. It was pretty serious,” he said.
The T Building suffered significant fire and water damage as result of the attack. The college said campus will re-open Wednesday with the exception of T Building, which is expected to remain closed as part of the investigation.
People inside the building Tuesday confirmed there was damage to the registrar office and fire stains that went from the floor up to five feet high.
Staff and faculty are being allowed back on Langara’s campus Tuesday to pick up any personal belongings or exam materials left behind during the evacuation yesterday, but are required to wear hardhats because of the structural damage to the building.
Restoration crews were fixing fire and water damage in the T Building. The college refuted a claim tweeted by a Langara student that the library had also sustained damage.
“As far as we know, there is no damage to the library,” said Mark Dawson, manager of public affairs at Langara.
The college announced classes would resume Wednesday.
If anyone has any more information on the incident, please text or call us The Voice at 604-842-1128, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read yesterday’s story on the arson.