Brunswick Police arrested two local youths on charges of criminal mischief on October 2. Police and Bowdoin Security suspect that the two are at least partly responsible for the wave of water balloon assaults on students since the start of term.
The suspects, one 19 and one 21, were apprehended for throwing water balloons at cars from the overpass above Route 1.
"Working with Brunswick PD we were able to zero in and get a plate which is Maine 428QC," said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
The license plate on the suspects' vehicle matched a partial plate identified by a Bowdoin Security Officer on October 7, during the most recently reported assault on campus.
The officer witnessed male assailants yell "you are going to get raped" at a female student from the window of their 1987 black Volkswagen Scirocco. He managed to see the three numbers in their license plate as the car sped off.
After matching this fragment with the plate of the vehicle involved in the Route 1 incident, Bowdoin Security "went to [the suspects'] residence in Brunswick and advised them to keep away from the Bowdoin campus," said Nichols.
Security told them that in the event of "any suspicious activity, we'll be notifying Brunswick PD."
According to Nichols, the police charges and the warning from security "may not completely end the incidents of water ballooning, but it will make a big dent in them."
Nichols said that others might be involved in the assaults on campus.
"I want to stress the fact that one of the reports said there were four people in the car [involved in one reported assault], we've only talked to two," said Nichols.
Nichols hopes that charges pressed against the two suspects will deter them and others from participating in the assaults and "make them realize that what they're committing is a crime."
"The only reason those people aren't being charged here" is because "we weren't able to positively identify the vehicle or the people involved," said Nichols.
If the people involved in the incidents on campus had been caught in the act, the charges would have been more severe than they were for the Route 1 incident.
The vulgar language directed at students would count as disorderly conduct, while throwing balloons would be considered assault, said Nichols.
Five similar cases have been called in to security since the first on September 6. Several students who were assaulted, however, did not report the incidents.
Sophomores Hugo Barajas and LaTasha Ball were walking behind Moulton Union toward Moore Hall around 11 p.m. when two water balloons were thrown at them from moving cars. The assailants shouted obscenely and drove off.
Barajas did not feel the need to tell Security because neither he nor Ball was harmed.
"It was really funny because the water balloons didn't even break," he said.
"I didn't feel any threat," Bajaras said, adding that the choice of water balloons was "very childish."
Ball did not report the incident because she "didn't feel like anything would get done."
"It wasn't that huge of an issue," said Ball.
Nichols said that he encourages students to "report to us what they see" and stressed how important this information can be in solving a series of crimes.
"Had all the people contacted us with bits and pieces of what they saw, we may have solved this sooner or raised charges," Nichols said. "Even a piece of a plate number is very, very important."
"I can't stress enough students being alert and gathering as much information as they possibly can when this occurs," said Nichols.
Reports of incidents involving water balloons have been reported town-wide and Nichols does not believe that Bowdoin students are at particular risk.
"We don't have any indication that Bowdoin students are being targeted," Nichols said.
Though "Bowdoin presents a certain opportunity for people who want to engage in this sort of activity because of the concentrated population," Nichols said, "We generally have very good town-gown behavior."
According to Nichols, if anything explains the recent assaults beyond the normal rises and falls in such activity, it is the time of year.
"We tend to see more of this type of behavior among young people as we get closer to Halloween."
While such activity may spike around this time of year, those who repeatedly participate in it are likely to get caught, according to Nichols.
"Every time an incident takes place, it increases our changes of getting to the bottom of it," said Nichols.
As of yesterday afternoon, there have been no balloon assaults since the apprehension of the two suspects, said Nichols.
"When people push their luck, eventually the luck runs out," he said.