The emergence of a conflicting eyewitness account has called into question the statement released by police about the death of an alleged squirrel in the Student Center.
Evelin Torres, a junior psychology major who initially discovered the injured animal, claimed that the April 11 incident was no accident and the animal was not a squirrel.
Squirrel, rabbit or rodent? Because the corpse was bloody and mangled beyond recognition, the individuals at the scene may never receive the true answer to this question. Those who first discovered the deceased animal have speculated about the nature of the events that occurred as well as the type of animal who met its eventual death.
Torres noticed the small creature when she came to work at the Student Center Annex Room 207 that Monday morning. Torres, an employee at the Global Education Center, observed the scene at approximately 8:25 a.m., when she saw something wedged between a chair and a box on the floor. “At first I thought it was a squirrel because it was gray,” Torres said. “I was so scared.”
Torres notified Aditi Patel, the interim director of International Services, as well as Karen Pender, assistant to the executive director and Torres’ supervisor. Patel then notified both the University Police Department (UPD) and a third-party animal control company to come and dispose of the remains. Torres contacted a facilities worker, who arrived after animal control removed the corpse, to clean the rest of the blood off the walls and chair.
“I was just horrified,” Pender said, describing her first reaction to the dead animal. “I can’t imagine someone doing something to [it]. The [animal control worker] told us it was not a squirrel, that it was a rabbit. I’m an animal person. I have cats and dogs. I was really bummed out about it, especially because it was a rabbit. I can’t imagine [the animal would have become trapped]. The chair isn’t even that heavy. Those are little wire chairs. I can’t imagine for the life of me how [the death] could have been an accident.”
According to Torres, when the animal control worker first arrived, he moved the chair away from the wall exposing what Torres described as resembling a bunny. “[Its] ears sprung up. You could definitely tell it was the body of a rabbit,” Torres said, claiming that the animal was still breathing while she observed.
A senior linguistics major, who preferred not to be named for this article, was cutting through the Student Center Annex at 11:15 a.m. when she noticed the animal control employee in a green polo holding a plastic bag in his hand. “At first I thought it was a mouse,” she said. “[A] woman looked so horrified. People are freaked out by mice.”
Concern was evident from those who witnessed the event because of the possibility of animal cruelty. The anonymous student reacted to this by posing the question, “If someone is going to hurt a little animal, what will stop them from hurting a person?”
The true details of the event may never be brought to light, and a similar reaction by Torres explains why. “Unfortunately, we don’t have cameras in our hallway, so that poses a problem, not just for capturing the criminal, but for our safety as well.”
There were no eyewitnesses who saw the death of the animal take place or how it became lodged between the chair and the wall. Therefore, UPD is unable to move forward with this case due to the lack of evidence.
Captain Kieran Barrett, spokesman for UPD, commented on the speculation. “We recognize and appreciate that community members would be upset at seeing such a sight. However, we have no indication that this animal was purposefully killed or made to suffer,” said Barrett. “We respectfully request anyone who may have more information about the incident [to] report it to university police.”