POSTED: Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 4:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 4:50pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — This is an NBC33 News update - LSU Police have arrested the man wanted for burning of the University's American flag earlier this week. Isaac Eslava, 23, turned himself to LSU police today on charges of theft and arson.
This is an NBC33 News update - LSU Police have issued an arrest warrant for Isaac Eslaya, 23. Eslaya is an LSU student and is believed to be responsible for the flag burning incident. He faces two felony counts of Simple Criminal Damage to Property, Arson, Theft, Resisting an Officer and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Officials say an LSU staff member alerted LSU Police about Eslaya’s whereabouts. Once located, Eslaya fled the scene and has not yet been captured.
Police did recover a stolen vehicle, which they believe was used by Eslaya. The LSU flag that was burned was recovered inside the vehicle along with drug paraphernalia, a clothing item belonging to the suspect and red and black spray paint.
Detectives have also learned that the same day as the flag burning, The Venue Apartments located north of campus were vandalized by graffiti using red and black spray paint and were able to connect the suspect to the crime.
Eslava holds a dual citizenship for the United States and Columbia and is believed to have fled to Atlanta, Ga.
If you have any information, contact LSU Police at (225) 578-3231.
This is an NBC33 News update - The flag that was torn down and burned on LSU's campus was replaced this evening. The ROTC on LSU's campus put the new flag up during a ceremony tonight. The previous flag had been flying at LSU's War Memorial for the past two years.
ORIGINAL STORY: Just hours after the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, an American flag is found burned on the LSU campus. No one is confirming a connection between the terrorist’s death and the flag burning, but the act has left many students unsettled.
“I think we all went to bed with a sense of American pride,” says Sgt. Austin Stukins with the Marine Corp. “Then, to wake up this morning to find that someone had the audacity to yank that flag down, which we all have fought for so hard to keep flying over this country for so many years. It was disheartening to say the least.”
Sgt. Stukins’ reaction is mirrored across the campus. “It took everything in me not to cry,” says former student government candidate, David Jones.
The American flag that flew over the war memorial on campus was cut down from the flagpole and burned.
“I think it’s just completely unacceptable and unjustified for anyone to steal the symbol of our country and then to deface it,” says junior Brittany Courville.
“That’s our livelihood of our nation,” adds senior Theodore Williams. “[It’s] the thing that really brings us together, so it really hits me hard.”
Some students wonder if Osama bin Laden’s death triggered the act. “I find it very hard to believe that it’s just a coincidence,” says Courville. “That’s not to say that it wouldn’t have happened eventually, but I think it was definitely a catalyst.”
A group of cadets showed up with a stand-in flag when they learned of the burning. They’ve been standing watch at the War Memorial all day. They say they’ll continue to guard the new flag until a more permanent one can take its place.
“I think this shows our Tiger pride,” says Williams.
The cadets were joined by a somber crowd for a prayer vigil. “I had to do something,” says Jones. When he heard about what had happened, he called as many friends as he could to join him at the War Memorial for a few minutes to honor the stars and stripes.
Jones says he asked students not to be angry. Instead, he hopes that they’ll pray for peace. “I cannot dignify an action of hatred and stupidity with hatred, with more stupidity,” he says.
It’s a reminder that America’s spirit can’t be broken. “I’m a patriot,” says Jones. “I love and breathe American and I’d give my life for this country.”
LSU police say they have a lead in the investigation. Check out NBC33 News for more details as they become available.
LSU students were shocked to learn that an American flag at the Memorial Tower was torn down and burned last night. It happened not long after the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.
LSU Police are working the case and say they have a lead in the investigation. They hope to have an update this afternoon.
Students and former SG Presidential candidate David Jones are holding a noon vigil as a “prayer for peace.” Our Kelsey Scram is tracking that story now. We will have that report for you tonight on NBC33 News at 5 p.m.