The University Police Department has arrested Albemarle County resident Shane Dennis in connection with the Sept. 7 hate crime and pile of items left at the Homer Statue last weekend. Dennis was taken into custody without incident and was charged with violating state law and was served with a No Trespass Order, per a University-wide email sent by University President Jim Ryan Tuesday afternoon.
Community members were first made aware of the hate crime through a community alert sent Sept. 8. Per the alert, an individual hung a noose around the statue’s neck. The University later confirmed that items had been left behind at the scene of the crime, including a note that read “TICK TOCK.”
In connection with this hate crime, Dennis was charged with violating section 18.2-423.2 of the Code of Virginia, which prohibits "displaying a noose on the property of another or a highway or other public place with intent to intimidate."
Police believe Dennis is also responsible for leaving a pile of items at the base of the statue over the weekend, including two masks, a “civil peace flag,” a Christian cross and a sealed envelope. The envelope was blank and contained a letter indicating that the statue “glorifies pedophilia,” reading that we “are all so blinded by hatred and racial division” that we “refuse to see the truth that is hidden in plain sight.” The letter did not contain any racial or religious references.
The No Trespass Order issued to Dennis prohibits him from entering Grounds in the future. Per the email, Dennis has no prior known relationship with the University and is being held without bond at the Albemarle Charlottesville Jail pending his hearing.
“Please be advised criminal warrants are not evidence of guilt and the individual who has been charged has a right to fair and impartial trial,” Albemarle County Attorney Jim Hingeley said.
Ryan emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of all community members on Grounds.
“We remain committed to ensuring the University of Virginia is a place where all can feel safe in the spaces where they live, learn and work,” Ryan said. “Although we are relieved that this suspect was apprehended, we will never stop working to ensure that this community is as safe and welcoming as it can be.”