Edison man charged in Rutgers University fire

EDISON — A township man was charged with attempted murder and arson, among other counts, in connection with a fire at a Rutgers University building last year, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

A grand jury handed up a 10-count indictment in New Brunswick on June 25, charging Shayam Sridhar, 21, a former Rutgers student, with setting fire to the Allison Road Classroom (ARC) building at 618 Allison Road on the Busch Campus in Piscataway on December 20, 2014.

Sridhar faces six counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated arson and one count each of causing widespread injury or damage and criminal mischief for setting the fire, authorities said.

At the time of the fire, 206 people were inside the building.

Sridhar initially was charged on Decem- ber 25, 2014, during an investigation by Detective Todd Giese of the Rutgers University Police Department and Detective Todd O’Malley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. He had been a student at Rutgers, but left during the fall term in 2014, police said.

The initial charge came after Officer David Tingle of the Edison Police Department identified Sridhar from a photo obtained during the investigation.

The investigation determined that Sridhar set fire to a 30-foot section of a hallway and an adjoining classroom on the second floor of the ARC Building at 1:03 p.m., according to authorities.

The flash fire set off an alarm, forcing the evacuation of 206 people, including students who were taking a final exam in a first-floor auditorium located beneath the burning hallway. No one was injured.

The fire was extinguished by an overhead sprinkler, but damaged portions of the hallway and the classroom. Subsequent cleanup and repairs cost $250,000.

In the two counts of aggravated arson, the grand jury contended that Sridhar damaged the building and endangered those inside.

The six counts of attempted murder came from the grand jury’s charge that Sridhar purposely attempted to cause the deaths of a student who was studying on the second floor, a professor and four proctors who were monitoring the test as it was being administered on the first floor.