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Man accused of setting fire to NMSU’s O’Donnell Hall, causing over $20,000 damage

Repairs underway to fire damage at O’Donnell Hall on the NMSU campus.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- A man has been arrested after a fire broke out at New Mexico State University’s O’Donnell Hall early Monday morning.

NMSU police arrested Andrew Caldera, who had come in contact with campus police earlier on Sunday night, and charged him with arson with more than $20,000 of damage and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Earlier, Caldera had been observed stumbling shirtless on campus near where the fire later broke out.

A public safety aide with the NMSU Police Department saw the man and was concerned about his well-being and called in for help.

Police say Caldera became aggressive and started to chase after the safety aide who was in a marked vehicle.

A campus police officer then arrived, interviewed Caldera and asked him if he had any weapons.

Caldera said he had a butane lighter in his pocket, according to police. He was released and temporarily banned from campus because of his aggressive actions earlier.

Shortly after that, a fire alarm sounded from O’Donnell Hall and smoke and flames were visible.

After making sure no one was in the building, officers searched for Caldera to interview him about the fire.

He was located near a sandwich shop near the university and was detained without incident.

O'Donnell Hall houses the College of Education and was built in 1968. The three-story structure underwent a major renovation between 2006 and 2008.

University officials said O’Donnell Hall would remain closed for the time being as crews work to repair and clean the fire damage. But it was anticipated that the building will reopen when the fall 2020 semester begins Aug. 19.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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David Burge


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