University of Missouri police yesterday arrested two white male students suspected of dropping cotton balls in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on campus.
Zachary Tucker, 21, and Sean Fitzgerald, 19, were arrested about 7:30 p.m., each on suspicion of one count of tampering in the second degree, a Class D felony enhanced because of the hate crime classification. They each posted $4,500 bond and were released from the Boone County Jail, with a date to return to court set for March 29.
Tucker is listed as a senior psychology major in an MU directory and is from St. Louis. Fitzgerald is a freshman political science major,
Chancellor Brady Deaton has temporarily suspended the students, saying he “determined it is in the best interest of the university community.”
MU police were called to the black culture center Friday morning after students and staff awoke to find cotton balls strewn across the lawn. The racist act, an overt reminder of slavery, came on one of the last days of Black History Month.
Police said they received an anonymous tip that led to the arrest but did not provide additional details. Capt. Brian Weimer would not confirm whether nearby video surveillance images were used in the arrest, saying he did not want to jeopardize the case.
Nathan Stephens, director of the black culture center, said he was pleased to hear about the arrests.
“I am excited that justice has prevailed,” he said. “I’m saddened for these students, but I’m also hopeful we can now continue to galvanize and make this university into what we want it to be —More