Alex Thiele (MSB ‘13), the Georgetown student accused of stealing a Park Police officer’s gun and shooting a toilet during Friday’s Midnight Madness pep rally, was released from police custody Tuesday after a preliminary hearing in the D.C Superior Court.
The hearing was intended to determine whether the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia had probable cause to prosecute Thiele for possessing a handgun without a license, and to evaluate whether Thiele should be released from jail.
“That’s a new one-—to have a Georgetown freshman [in court],” Judge Andrea Harnett, who presided over the hearing, said.
Mark Schamel, Thiele’s lawyer, said that Thiele would most likely not be returning to Georgetown University as a student.
“I think it’s unlikely that he’s going to return to Georgetown,” Schamel said. “I don’t think they’re going to give him that option.”
After the hearing, an order for Thiele’s release was filed. Thiele’s case will be brought before a grand jury, which will decide whether there is enough evidence to prosecute Thiele on the one remaining charge of possession of a handgun without a license. Thiele had been previously detained on two additional charges, felony theft and destruction of property.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Detective Nelson Morais, who interviewed Thiele the night of the shooting, Thiele confessed to shooting the toilet hours after the shooting.
Morais noted that two witnesses, including one man who was in the bathroom during the shooting, identified Thiele as the shooter. Morais added that no one had seen Thiele take Park Police officer’s handgun.
When pressed by Thiele’s attorney to say what he thought motivated Thiele to shoot the toilet, Morais said, “Probably stupidity, to be honest with you.”
The weapon allegedly used by Thiele was stolen from the purse of Park Police Office Sherice Clanton, according to an incident report from MPD.
“She turned her back for approximately a minute then finds her purse ransacked,” the contents of her purse scattered over the bleachers and her handgun gone, Morais said.
The recovered gun is described in the report as a black Heckler & Koch handgun. A Park Police spokeswoman said that the gun is valued between $800 and $1,000.
After allegedly shooting at a toilet in the men’s bathroom of McDonough Gymnasium on the night of Midnight Madness, Thiele reportedly returned to the third floor of Village C West where his dorm room was located.
Upon returning to the dorm, Thiele entered the room of Daniel Poplawski (COL `13), although his own residence was located directly across the hall. Thiele was visibly shaken up when he entered, according to Poplawski.
Thiele promptly put the gun down on a couch and claimed that an unknown black man gave him the weapon in McDonough. Thiele left the room without the gun, retaining a bullet from the weapon.
Poplawski explained the situation to his Resident Advisor, who made a call to Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety. Poplawski said he did not know whether Thiele was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DPS Officers entered Village C West at 11:00 P.M., according to student guard Simon Chivi (NHS `12). Thiele was escorted out of the building by one DPS officer, though six to eight MPD officers arrived a few minutes later.
“They shut the place down,” Chivi said.
According to Schamel, there is a possibility that Thiele will return to San Diego and enroll in a High Intensitivity Supervision Program as he waits for his trial in the District.
Additional reporting by Galen Weber.