WashingtonPost: MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Five West Virginia University students from four states have been charged with malicious burning in some of the 29 fires that kept Morgantown fire crews busy all weekend.
It was the end of finals week at West Virginia University, but the blazes didn’t appear to be part of organized celebrations, said Fire Capt. Ken Tennant. Rather, they were set randomly, both day and night, from Thursday night through Monday morning.
All 18 street fires and 11 trash bin fires were in the downtown and Sunnyside areas.
If this isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. After cramming for tests around the clock, these students felt compelled to systematically torch Morgantown.
Maybe the teachers need to lighten the course-load a tad. Maybe the stress of making that leap into the “real world” was too much for these students to bear. Maybe they’d rather take spend some time in prison, even hang their new diplomas on the wall.
Maybe they were simply doing what they thought was expected of them.
Morgantown led the nation in the number of intentional street fires between 1997 and 2003, with a total 1,129 set.
Ahh, a culture of setting fires for sport, of course. So all we need here is a stiff penalty for the arsons (Eric T. Bailey of New Cumberland; Gage T. Swartz of Winchester, Va.; Emily S. Foster of Berryville, Va.; Michael J. Rutland of Overland Park, Kan.; and Matthew P. Isakower of Hackettstown, N.J.) to serve as a deterrent for future arsonists.
Life in prison without the possibility of parole should send the message.