Tulane University police booked two men and a woman into New Orleans’ jail late Saturday on allegations that they set a sign on a dorm room door on fire.

Robert Money, 21; David Shelton, 20; and Naima Okami, 20, face counts of aggravated arson, said Blake Arcuri, general counsel of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail.

Louisiana law defines aggravated arson as intentionally setting a fire where it is foreseeable that human life will be endangered. It can carry between six and 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Tulane police didn’t say how they identified Money, Shelton and Okami as suspects in an incident that a campus group says was politically motivated and that became the subject of a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., the president's son.

According to The Advocate’s media partners at WWL-TV, Tulane police also have not said what prompted the burning early Saturday morning of a plastic sign that appears to read "I am NOLABUILT" on a dormitory room door in Weatherhead Hall.

The slogan is apolitical; it is a hashtag used by Tulane athletics.

three arrested

From left to right, David Shelton Naima Okami and Robert Money

But a student who lived in the dorm room is an officer of the Tulane chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian organization with chapters at other universities as well.

The organization says the fire was set soon after the student, Peyton Lofton, was identified online as a member of the group. The organization released photos on social media that showed a Tulane police officer examining the door. The group put out a statement of support for Lofton.

News of the small blaze, which set off a fire alarm but didn't cause any injuries, ignited a social media firestorm in conservative circles.

Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing activist group Turning Point USA, tweeted that Lofton is the president of Tulane’s Turning Point chapter and called the setting of the blaze “sick and dangerous.” 

Kirk was retweeted by Trump Jr., who rhetorically asked his 3.4 million followers whether the media would report on “this horrible crime.”

Tulane police told WWL-TV that they had obtained warrants to arrest the three students. The two men are Tulane students, while Okami attends Brown University, according to Tulane spokesman Mike Strecker. 

A photo on social media suggests Okami was in town visiting Shelton at the time of their arrest.

Bail was set at $10,000 for each suspect, and all three posted it and were released by Sunday afternoon. 

Weatherhead Hall is a 269-bed residential hall on Willow Street. It opened in August 2011. It is an upperclass honors residence. 


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.