Investigation continues after two in custody in connection to ROTC van fire


Screenshot from TV2 video

Lauren Phillips

The Kent State Police Department announced  two suspects have been indicted on Oct. 2 in connection with the arson of two ROTC vans last February.

According to the Kent State University press release, 23-year-old Emilio O. Vidal of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and 20-year-old Evan M.K. Ecklund of Lakewood, Ohio, are accused of setting the fires. 

Each face two counts of arson, a fourth-degree felony and two counts of vandalism, a fifth-degree felony. Both are currently being held at the Portage County Jail.

According to University Spokesman Eric Mansfield, Vidal is a recent Kent State graduate and Ecklund never attended Kent. Kent State University Police worked with the Kent Police Department, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office and the FBI on the investigation, which is still awaiting an outcome.

“The case is still open, no other information is available right now,” said Bill Krugh, public information officer for the Division of State Fire Marshal in the Ohio Department of Commerce

Ben Pfeiffer, a sophomore nursing major, alerted police about the fire around 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2015. Pfeiffer didn’t see anyone set the fires. As a safety precaution at the time, the ROTC building was placed on lockdown and students were told not to wear their uniforms around campus, as previously reported on KentWired. 

The Army ROTC currently has no comment about the indictments, other than praise for those helping to solve the case.

“We are very proud of our Kent State Police Department, the local Kent Police and all of the agencies involved in working to resolve this issue,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Fox, Army ROTC Commander.