Vox‘s Midnight Madness shooting primer

Washington bullets

UPDATE 11:58 PM: At the hearing, Alex Thiele appeared in an orange jumpsuit, with his hands cuffed behind his back. His defense attorney made comments to the effect that Thiele will probably be expelled from Georgetown. Full post coming later today.

The latest Midnight Madness shooting news: alleged shooter Alex Thiele (’13) has a preliminary hearing in criminal court this Tuesday morning. You can bet Vox will be there.

Until the hearing, which should shake loose a few more details, here’s what’s known so far. If you prefer your Midnight Madness shooting information in a less organized, although more thrilling, style, check out our posts from Friday night and the weekend.

During Midnight Madness this Friday night in McDonough Gymnasium, according to a police report, someone (allegedly Thiele) took a Heckler + Koch .40 from the purse of Park Police Officer Sherice Clanton. Clanton was not on-duty at the time, according to Sergeant David Schlosser, a Park Police spokesman.

After obtaining the gun, Thiele allegedly went to the men’s bathroom in McDonough and shot a toilet once. All of this occurred between 10:21 p.m. and 10:25 p.m., according to the report.

From McDonough, Thiele took the gun to Village C West, according to the report and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson. Meanwhile, administrators held students attending Midnight Madness inside a few minutes after the event was expected to end.

A student tip led police to Thiele, according to a source familiar with the investigation. Police arrested Thiele and recovered Clanton’s handgun, according to the police report.

Thiele was booked into the Second District lock-up around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, according to the station’s arrest log. He was charged with possession of a handgun without a license, felony theft (the Park Police’s Schlosser puts the gun’s value at between $800 and $1,000), and destruction of property, according to the report.

Saturday morning, according to court records,  Thiele was formally charged in D.C. Superior Court.

A lot of questions remain, most notably:

  • Did Officer Clanton violate Park Police policy and store her weapon unsafely? Sergeant Schlosser says an investigation has begun and will be finished in a couple of weeks. To the best of his knowledge, Clanton is still on-duty with the Park Police.
  • Why was no emergency text message alert sent out to students? Judging from the police report and the time students were held inside Midnight Madness, it seems like there were about 30 minutes between the shooting and when Thiele was apprehended where the shooter posed a threat to anyone on campus.
  • If the charges against Thiele are true, why did he take the gun in the first place?
  • Why shoot the toilet?

Photo by George D’Angelo. Reporting by Eric Pilch, Will Sommer, and Galen Weber.

14 Comments on “Vox‘s Midnight Madness shooting primer

  1. Why shoot the toilet? I suspect to see what it’s like to shoot a gun. See what comes of not introducing children to firearms at an early age?

  2. On the whole, good reporting Vox, but do we really need the “smile and big boy clothes” comment? I get this is a blog so we have less objectivity in general, but that’s just belittling the whole thing to me, not to mention minimizing the consequences of Thiele’s actions.

  3. Vox brings up a good question: why take the gun? i’ve known thiele personally for the past 7 years and it is totally out of character for him to do something like this. it will be definitely interesting to hear about what happens

  4. Yeah, I’m sure introducing firearms at an early age would have prevented a drunk guy from stealing a gun and shooting it.

  5. “Did Officer Clanton violate Park Police policy and store her weapon unsafely? Sergeant Schlosser says an investigation has begun and will be finished in a couple of weeks. To the best of his knowledge, Clanton is still on-duty with the Park Police.”

    Almost undoubtedly yes, and almost undoubtedly Clanton is “on-duty’ in the sense that she is sitting at the station during her shift but she’s probably on “Admin” or “Non-contact” status.

    And any LE person will tell you that storing your weapon in your purse/backpack/etc. is absolutely unsafe and contrary to General Orders. If she’s new, she’s likely to be fired and if she’s been on a few years she’ll definitely get days if not weeks of suspension.

  6. Actually, if done properly it may have. Shooting a toilet is an act of curiosity, not malice. Well, that or psychotropic drugs.

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  9. I find it very interesting that the prosecutor wanted Thiele held because he’s dangerous. When everyone else outside of Georgetown gets arrested for illegal posession of a handgun, they’re back on the streets without delay. Apparently the handgun laws in DC are pretty tricky. Why they would throw the book at a drunk georgetown student who shot a toilet, but not do so to anyone else who’s probably got a rap sheet a mile long, I cannot fathom.

    I’m not saying he should be handled gently. The dude’s clearly got some screws loose. But he’s certainly no more dangerous than the hardened criminals who similar charges dismissed on a regular basis.

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