San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

2016 Crime and incident report: hate crime and clowns


A non-San Diego State student was arrested Sept. 15 after being confronted by a private security guard for trespassing in the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre.

Marquis Campbell, 20, who is African-American, was forcibly detained by police officers during his videotaped arrest, prompting campus-wide protests against what many saw as police brutality.

SDSU Interim Chief of Police Josh Mays said the day of the incident that Campbell appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.

Campbell was arraigned on four misdemeanor charges of resisting an officer on Sept. 18.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s office added one charge of being under the influence of a controlled substance on Oct. 6, after a toxicology report showed Campbell had a trace amount of methamphetamine in his system at the time of his arrest.

A number of concerned SDSU students raised money to bail Campbell out of jail, but he was arrested three days later in El Cajon for an unrelated petty theft incident.

Campbell pleaded not guilty for both SDSU charges and charges of resisting an officer and petty theft relating to his El Cajon case.

Nancy Craig, the security guard who first made contact with Campbell, said he “didn’t seem quite normal,” but also said he did not hurt or threaten anyone during her interaction with him.

Campbell’s defense team said he had become homeless prior to his SDSU arrest, and was taking a walk through SDSU’s public campus when he entered the open air theatre through an unlocked gate.

Civil engineering sophomore Verne Patrick, who filmed Campbell’s arrest video, testified that the SDSUPD officers’ handling of the arrest did not seem right to him.

“I proceeded to see police officers just asking him questions and then moving on to tackling him to the ground and skipping the whole detaining process,” Patrick said.

In the prosecution’s closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Oscar Hagstrom said officers could have responded with much more force than they actually did.

“I don’t think that’s the bar we should set,” Deputy Public Defender Pedro Garcia said during the defense’s closing argument. “I don’t think we should sit here and say, ‘Well, at least they didn’t shoot him.’”

A jury found Campbell guilty of being under the influence of a controlled substance, but deadlocked 11-1 on his resisting arrest charges.

In the end, Campbell took a plea deal and was sentenced to 180 days in a drug treatment program and five years of summary probation.


The “creepy clown” trend came to SDSU in early October, with three alleged clown sightings between the evening of Oct. 5 and the morning of Oct. 6.

One person stopped to check on a clown lying on the ground near the intersection of 55th Street and Remington Road just after 5 a.m. on Oct. 6. However, the reporting party said the subject stood up and left before campus police were able to arrive. None of these reported clowns were ever located by officers.

The clowns made a re-appearance on Oct. 27, when one person reported a male clown wielding a bat and a sword near the North Art Building. The sword turned out to be a toy and a separate large knife was found  in the subject’s possession. The subject was arrested and taken to county jail for possession of a weapon on campus.

The following evening, on Oct. 28, a man said he was attacked near SDSU by four individuals wearing clown costumes after a verbal altercation.

San Diego Police Department Lt. Scott Wahl said this was “an isolated incident” at the time of the investigation.

In the most recent sighting, reported on Nov. 22 she driving in Parking 1 when she reported being chased by a subject on foot wearing a clown mask and wielding a knife. Police were again unable to locate a suspect.


A female SDSU student reported being inappropriately touched by an unknown man at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, near the intersection of Montezuma Road and E. Campus Drive.

The victim escaped uninjured after fighting off the man, who was never located.The incident resulted in a community safety alert being sent to all SDSU students and staff.


A female SDSU student was robbed of her purse, car and keys by two assailants in Parking 12 on Nov. 9. She later discovered her car was stolen as well.

The victim, who was wearing a hijab, said she heard the two suspects talking about President-elect Donald Trump before the robbery, according to a community safety alert.

“They said something along the lines of ‘now that Trump is president, get ready to start packing up and flee,’” said sociology senior Aisha Sharif, a friend of the victim.  “She had her keys in her hand, and they just took her keys and took her car.”

A statement from President Elliot Hirshman condemned the incident as a “hateful act.”

About the Contributor
Will Fritz
Will Fritz, Editor in Chief
Will Fritz is the editor in chief of The Daily Aztec for the 2018-19 academic year. A fourth-year journalism major, he's a weekend breaking news reporter for City News Service, an editorial intern at Voice of San Diego and president of SDSU's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Follow him on Twitter at @fritzed_, and contact him directly at (619) 594-4190 or
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
2016 Crime and incident report: hate crime and clowns