Gold Bar WWU student accused of racist, homophobic vandalism

He was arrested and booked Sunday for investigation of residential burglary.

By David Rasbach / Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM — A Western Washington University student from Gold Bar has been arrested in connection with a string of on-campus vandalism that included racist and homophobic slurs and a threat of sexual violence.

A WWU campus advisory announcing the arrest Monday said the student was a resident at the Birnam Wood campus apartments and he is no longer allowed at any university housing and dining halls. WWU police will continue to investigate.

According to public records, university police booked Shayne Robert Merwin, 20, into the Whatcom County Jail on Sunday for investigation of residential burglary.

Merwin was scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court Monday.

Nine name tags on residents’ rooms on four floors at the Nash Residence Hall and a stairwell in the hall were vandalized on Nov. 18, according to a previous campus advisory. The next day, a racial epithet was scrawled on the Wright’s Triangle sculpture near the Ross Engineering Building and a poster in front of Arntzen Hall also was defaced with racist language.

One additional racist word was found Nov. 19 on a pillar at Fairhaven College, WWU spokesman Paul Cocke said.

All of the vandalism, which targeted the African-American, Latino, Japanese and LBGTQ communities, has been removed.

“I am deeply troubled that hateful and bigoted vandalism by cowardly individuals continues to happen here, in a place where we should all feel safe and welcomed,” WWU President Sabah Randhawa said in a letter to the community last week. “I want to be perfectly clear: hate has absolutely no place on our campus. I am deeply saddened that several of our students saw these upsetting scenes.”

The suspect received a 2017 Mayor’s Youth Achievement Award in Gold Bar and had been a Rotary Club student of the month while attending Sultan High School.

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