Window-smashing spree at University of Massachusetts results in arrest of two men

Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014
AMHERST — Two men were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court Wednesday for their alleged involvement in a week-long vandalism spree that included smashing windows in a number of University of Massachusetts buildings and vehicles and stealing flags flying in front of the Whitmore Administration Building.

William Wallace Droser, 19, of 778 North Pleasant St., and Brett R. Hirsch, 19, of Freehold, N.J., were both arrested Tuesday by UMass police on seven counts of vandalizing property, six counts of larceny over $250, three counts of possession of burglary tools and two counts of malicious damage to motor vehicles and a charge of breaking and entering during the nighttime to commit a felony.

Droser and Hirsch each pleaded innocent in Eastern Hampshire District Court and were released on their own personal recognizance for a pretrial hearing June 11. They were ordered to stay away from drugs and alcohol and are subject to random screenings. It is unclear whether they are UMass students, though Droser gave an address as the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and Hirsch reportedly has lived on campus.

According to court documents, the men were arrested after allegedly causing damage throughout Tuesday that included breaking a window at Totman Physical Education Building, 30 Eastman Lane; smashing a card-access reader at Lederle Graduate Research Center, 710 North Pleasant St.; smashing seven panes of glass at Goessman Laboratory, 686 North Pleasant St.; breaking windows in two Environmental Health and Safety vehicles parked in Lot 65 on Natural Resources Road; breaking a window at Conte Polymer Research Center, 120 Governors Drive; and damaging two window screens at Leach dormitory, 21 Eastman Lane. At Leach, police discovered a hammer left behind that had the phrase “let’s get hammered” written on it.

It was at Leach dormitory where a video camera captured the two possible suspects, police said. And, according to the report, an employee identified Hirsch, telling police he was a former resident of the dorm. Hirsch was found a short time later walking along North Pleasant Street near the former Mark’s Meadow School wearing the same clothes as one of the men in the video and admitted to causing the damage, police said.

The vandalism allegedly done by Droser and Hirsch is believed to have started on May 7 when police got a report that three windows, each 18-by-36 inches, were broken at Totman.

It continued the following day when the American flag, the state flag and the Prisoners of War flag were stolen from poles at the Haigis Mall, an incident reported at 5:24 a.m. At the same time, police received reports of the thefts of a turnout jacket and fire helmet from an unlocked Environmental Health and Safety vehicle parked in Lot 65.

On Monday, police said, they found that equipment near the flagpoles had been tampered with indicating the men allegedly attempted to again steal the flags, which had been replaced, but were unsuccessful.