Students held on $1 million bond for Heinz Field break-in
Two Carnegie Mellon students were arrested early yesterday morning as they tried to break into Heinz Field hours before a Steelers game at the stadium.
Police arrested Sudeep Paul, a senior in business administration and economics, and Anand Shankar Durvasula, a junior in economics and social and decision sciences, for attempting to scale a fence at the stadium’s Gate 5 about 2 a.m. yesterday morning.
The two are now being held on $1 million straight bond each after being arraigned in front of District Magistrate Gene Riccardi last night.
Heinz Field security officers told Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV news that they saw the men on surveillance tape opening an unsecured door.
After the two walked around the stadium with a folding chair, security officers apprehended them as they returned to Gate 5. Durvasula was standing on the chair, trying to climb the fence.
When apprehended, the pair said they were students who had tickets to Sunday’s Steelers game against the Denver Broncos and wanted to check out their seats.
They later said they were filming a music video and wanted to shoot the last scene on the field.
Because of a recent threat to NFL stadiums, Pittsburgh police took the break-in seriously.
At a press conference yesterday, Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said police called in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, made up of the city, county, and state police, the county sheriff, and the FBI. Bomb-sniffing dogs also searched the stadium and found no explosives.
Police then searched the silver Lexus SUV the students were driving. They found a video camera and tripod before towing the car.
According to KDKA-TV news, a police affidavit later noted two different dogs responded positively for hits of explosives inside the SUV.
Harper said there was no evidence the pair had been drinking, and police found no signs of alcohol in the car.
Police also searched both students’ on-campus residences in Morewood Gardens and Doherty Apartments.
Friends of the two have not received any information about where they are now. They also were unclear as to why the pair wanted to enter Heinz Field.
“I think they were just playing around,” Durvasula’s roommate said, who asked that his name not appear in print.
The roommate noted that he had not received any information about the two students’ whereabouts, nor had he spoken to either of them since the incident occurred. The only contact he had with police, he said, was when they came to search the apartment that he shares with Durvasula.
“I think they’re in jail now,” he said.
Both were charged with criminal conspiracy, and Durvasula with criminal trespassing, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last night.
“I’m not sure exactly what they’re going to do with them,” Carnegie Mellon Police Sergeant William Ricci said yesterday.
Following the pair’s arraignment last night, police scheduled a preliminary hearing for Thursday.
Both students are members of Carnegie Mellon’s Mock Trial team, according to the organization’s website.
Paul is also the activities director of the Undergraduate Finance Association, and Durvasula is in charge of organizing the 2007 Tepper Venture Challenge for the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Association.
Police had increased security for yesterday’s 4:15 p.m. Steelers game, including additional officers and a team of police dogs.
Last month, a 21-year-old grocery store clerk was accused of posting messages on the Internet saying that radioactive “dirty bombs” would be detonated at seven football stadiums, including the Georgia Dome, where the Steelers played the Atlanta Falcons on the weekend in question.
No incidents were reported.