ASU police arrest suspect in criminal damage to Quran, Tempe campus library

Dec 10, 2021, 11:34 AM | Updated: 12:04 pm
Wesley Waggoner, left. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo; Twitter Photo/ASU Police)...
Wesley Waggoner, left. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo; Twitter Photo/ASU Police)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo; Twitter Photo/ASU Police)

PHOENIX – Police at Arizona State University arrested a man suspected of twice damaging library property, including a Quran, at the Tempe campus.

Wesley Waggoner, 37, was taken into custody Thursday night and booked on charges of criminal damage and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Waggoner is accused of causing “significant damage” at the Hayden Library, where a Quran in the interfaith reflection area was defiled Wednesday. An ASU Police Department spokesman told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday the religious book was damaged “beyond repair.”

The suspect returned to the library Thursday and allegedly caused more damage. Staff called campus police while he was still in the building and he was eventually caught.

“There is no room or tolerance at ASU for this type of damaging behavior,” university Police Chief Michael Thompson said in a press release. “We are still investigating the circumstances and reasoning surrounding these actions.”

Arizona law does not have a hate crime category for investigations, but authorities can consider prejudicial motivations as an aggravating factor, said Adam Wolfe, a spokesman for ASU police.

The school said potentially more charges could be submitted against Waggoner, who also had two confirmed warrants.

“We welcome the arrest of the suspected perpetrator of this heinous attack,” Azza Abuseif, executive director of the Council on Islamic Relations in Arizona said in a press release.

“We urge law enforcement to pursue hate crime charges against him. Violent Islamophobia poses a threat to Muslim communities nationwide, and law enforcement has a responsibility to take action.”

Before the arrest, the ASU Muslim Students Association called the damage a hate crime and posted photos of burned and torn pages with Arabic writing and damage to a wall.

The association said in a statement the room “is largely used by Muslim students gathering for prayer and is a well-known place for students to find a few moments (of) peace and reflection on campus.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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ASU police arrest suspect in criminal damage to Quran, Tempe campus library