Campus police identify three men following reports of masked men in residence halls

Alexandra Golden, Reporter

Following days of social media reports and rumors of possibly armed, ski-masked men roaming the hallways of Kent State residence halls, banging on doors and shutting off hallway lights, police identified three male students involved in “the most recent mischief and disorderly behavior.”

Kent State Police received reports around 11 p.m. Wednesday of a masked man knocking on doors and turning off hallway lights in an unidentified dormitory, according to Emily Vincent, director of media relations at Kent State. Vincent said university police investigated and found the incidents occurred in the Eastway and Twin Towers complexes, and that they also “observed social media posts about this matter.”

Thursday morning, an email sent to resident assistants from Alex Bakhaus, the area coordinator for Stopher, Johnson, Lake and Olson Halls, confirmed the “knockers” existence. She warned the students of a threatening social media post, stating in the email the “Ski Mask Knockers” would visit Olson Hall Thursday night and “may bring weapons.”

Bakhaus stated the Kent State Police were notified of the potential threat and that safety assistants would be increasing their rounds in Lake and Olson halls Thursday night “as an extra precaution,” the email stated. Bakhaus wanted the resident assistants to be “aware in case it comes up tonight with residents/while you are on rounds,” according to the email.

One resident assistant responded to the email and thanked Bakhaus for the information, but stated, “We are not equipped or trained to deal with weaponry, and we should never be asked to put ourselves in situations that could potentially harm us.” The email also pointed out that fire drills that were to take place Thursday also presented a security risk, since “residents will be leaving the building and re-entering in mass amounts—allowing anyone to enter.”

Posts on GroupMe and YikYak stated the masked man was going around Allyn Hall Tuesday night and into the early morning Wednesday. Thursday, the posts stated the masked man was seen in Clark Hall Wednesday evening around 10 p.m. and again Thursday at 2 a.m.

When Alejandra Dilley, a freshman Allyn Hall resident, got a knock on her door late Tuesday night, she said she thought it was just guys down the hall playing a prank. She did not think much of it until she saw that residents on her floor’s GroupMe, an app used to communicate with groups of people, were talking about a man in a ski mask, she said.

The resident assistants on her floor advised them to stay in their rooms, she said.

One resident said in the GroupMe that security was called and all the doors of Allyn were locked, Dilley said.

“There are no reports for Allyn Hall, or any hall, last night or anytime this semester of a man wearing a ski mask banging on doors and threatening people,” said Emily Vincent, director of university media relations on Wednesday. “Allyn Hall was not shut down last night.”

Della Fowler, a freshman Clark Hall resident, said she experienced the masked man for the first time a month ago while she was on the phone with her mother.

He wore a neon green ski mask with black pants and a black hoodie, and cornered her when she was going to the bathroom, she said. He asked her for money and shoved his hand into the door opening to let himself in. She closed the door in his face and said she thought this was the end of the encounter.

Kent State police spokesperson Tricia Knoles also said Wednesday the department had received no reports — residence life and University Safety and Security staff who were contacted by KentWired directed reporters back to the Kent State police department.

Knoles didn’t hear of a possible incident in Allyn Hall until the media contacted her regarding it. “I can not validate that anything like that occurred,” she said.

Some students doubted the validity of early reports, including one YikYak commenter who said “I think this is misinformation” in response to a post stating the masked man had a gun.

Dilley said she did not believe this was a prank, but was an actual event, since both RA’s were involved in the situation, she said.

“They normally don’t both text in the GroupMe,” Dilley said. “So this might be somewhat semi serious because they are both getting involved.”

Clark Hall residents also reported banging on their doors Tuesday night, Fowler said, but no one was spotted then.

“I don’t know if it’s the same guys or if there’s a copycat thing happening or what?” Fowler said.

Fowler heard banging on the doors around 10 p.m. Wednesday and saw all the lights in the hallway were off. She saw two masked people wearing black masks run into the stairwell, she said.

Another resident on her floor saw the men and gave the RA a description of them, Fowler said.

Fowler said she heard banging on the door again around 2 a.m. Thursday morning.

Though the men were not named by the university, Vincent said the men identified “will be held accountable for the community impact through referrals to the Office of Student Conduct and/or criminal charges.” It’s unclear what criminal charges could be filed against the students.

Students with reports or concerns regarding the incidents are encouraged to call 911 or 330-672-2212, Vincent said, or visit the campus safety website for safety resources and information.

Alex Golden is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Zaria Johnson contributed to this report. Contact her at [email protected]