Blanton Fire Alarm Leads to Chaos; Officer Assaulted by Student

Evacuation lasted 3 hours

Early Friday morning around 12:30 a.m., the fire alarm went off in Montclair’s Blanton Hall, which led to an evacuation of the building that lasted almost three hours.

According to Montclair State University police, the alarm was caused by an odor of natural gas that came from the building’s cafeteria area, which houses both a Dunkin Donuts and a Guy Fieri Restaurant. After nearly three hours of waiting outside, residents were allowed back in and began to head back up to their dorm rooms, only to be told that they had to exit again, where the evacuation continued for about another half hour. During the second evacuation, a fight broke out, and according to police and student sources, an officer was assaulted and a student arrested.

At one point, certain CA’s outside had even told students to consider making alternate plans to crash for the night. According to Montclair officer Lt. Kieran Barrett, this was because it was unclear that the premises was absolutely safe.

“After clearance from the Fire Department was given, the public service company arrived and requested that the building be cleared,” he explained.  “This was mostly a precaution on their part, and when they were finished the building could be reoccupied again.”

Despite the precaution, tempers outside were short. The students, many of whom had been out drinking and were returning to their dorm, were restless, shouting at their CA’s and even cops. The irritation lasted throughout the weekend, and was a popular topic of conversation. Certain students expressed their annoyance in the following days with the length and disorganization of the evacuation process.

“I thought it was handled very poorly,” said Max Allegretti, a junior resident of Blanton, “It was 3 a.m. and I just wanted to go to bed. They brought us in and then took us back out; it was a mess.”

The disturbance was even worse for those unfortunate enough to have an early Friday morning class, as freshman resident Ross Crane pointed out.

“I wasn’t happy at all. I was trying to sleep, I had an 8:30 class in the morning. So I’m trying to sleep and then I couldn’t go back into Blanton for an hour,” he lamented. “So I wasn’t happy about it but it is what it is I guess.”

A student was arrested for resisting arrest, with eyewitnesses saying the student shoved a cop as he tried to handcuff him, and took off running.  Freshman resident of Blanton Nevin Perkins offered his own account of the chaotic scene.

“A kid was sprinting, two cops were chasing him, there was flock of students in front of our hall (Blanton) and in front of Bohn (across the street), all screaming. And I was pretty much shocked. And then of course I was outside for about two hours; it was pretty unpleasant.”

Andrew Perez-Vinas, a fifth floor CA in Blanton, confirmed that not only was an officer was assaulted by a Blanton resident, but that CA’s also were targeted by angry students.

“People were trying to walk close to the building, and we didn’t want anyone near the building,” he explained. “So some kid tried to push (another CA) and then the kid got got in my face and tried to hit me. So the kid runs away, the cop chased after him but fell down, but after that they finally caught the kid and drove him right by and embarrassed him.”

Police confirmed that an individual did resist arrest and an officer was assaulted in the process, resulting in arrest. The name of the arrested party was not disclosed. Information involving the student’s arrest would be released in the blotter.

Montclair State | New Jersey

Matt Maccaro

Matt Maccaro is a communications student at Montclair State University.