Minnesota woman strikes St. Kate’s

St. Catherine University (a/k/a St. Kate’s, formerly St. Catherine College) sits on a leafy 110-acre campus in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. It is located a few blocks down the street from my high school alma mater and within shouting distance of Macalester College as well as St. Thomas University.

A “Minnesota woman” went on an arson rampage at St. Kate’s this past Wednesday. Tnuza Jamal Hassan — a 19-year-old former student — set eight fires in seven buildings across the campus. All but one of the fires were set in trash cans inside bathrooms.

Hassan kindly explained that she did so in retaliation for American military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the criminal complaint failed in Ramsey County District Court. Her religious inspiration isn’t expressly stated, but she appeared in court yesterday wearing garb including a black face covering that exposed only her eyes and what appeared to be a large white sheet draped over her head. I think she was shooting to make a bold fashion statement with a makeshift niqab.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press covers the story here, the Star Tribune here and here. The Pioneer Press story includes readers’ comments at the bottom. The Star Tribune story does not want to hear from readers on this one. Video of the report by the local Fox affiliate is below. (Stick with the video for the statement by the president of St. Kate’s toward the end.)

Hassan is a hard, hard case. She set one fire at St. Mary Hall, the school’s largest dorm. It houses first-year students (welcome to St. Kate’s!) and the Early Childhood Center, a day care facility. Hassan appears to have included St. Mary Hall on her rampage because of the day care facility. Thirty-three children and eight adults were at a day care in the building at the time, along with 10 to 15 students who were also evacuated.

Hassan did a lot of talking that will prove helpful to the prosecution of the case against her. She explained to police that “she wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people.” She said similar attacks happened on “Muslim land” and no one cared if Muslims were hurt. Hassan also told police that she had written a letter to her roommates containing “radical ideas about supporting Muslims and bringing back the caliphate.” And just to be clear, she also told authorities, “You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that.” Good to know.

Her efforts to burn the St. Kate’s down ran from some time before about 11:40 a.m. with the first reported fire and ended about 2:00 p.m. with Hassan’s arrest on campus. She was taken into custody at the school’s Jeanne d’Arc Auditorium at 2004 Randolph Av.

On a personal note, I’ve been to Jeanne d’Arc Auditorium many times for performances by artists ranging from my kids to Cry Cry Cry, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and Livingston Taylor, among others. It’s a magnificent performance space.

Like the defendants convicted in the case of “the Minnesota men” that I covered for Power Line and the Weekly Standard, Hassan has been the beneficiary of the best Minnesota has to offer. She attended Highland Park Junior High School, a couple blocks from our old home in Highland Park. She graduated from Johnson Senior High School in St. Paul before moving on to St. Kate’s to go to college. If you have additional background on Hassan, please write me at [email protected].

Bail has been set at $100,000. She was also ordered to stay away from the campus and surrender her passport. If she makes bail and violates that court order about returning to St. Kate’s, she’ll really be in trouble.

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