ISU Police arrest ex-student found camped in Coover Hall


Hayley Hochstetler/Iowa State Daily

A former international student was supposedly found with stolen property in a projector booth in the Coover Hall Auditorium. 

Makayla Tendall

The ISU Police Department has arrested a former international student who police say was camped out in Coover Hall.

A stolen laptop led police to the arrest of Le Dinh Oung. 

Jane Dawson, senior lecturer of geology, was in her office in Science 1 on a Sept. 27 when her laptop was stolen while she was in the copy room right next door.

“I stepped away for a couple of minutes and went to the room right next to my office to make copies,” Dawson said. “I didn’t lock my door because I figured I was only a few feet away, and it was a Saturday afternoon.”

Dawson said she didn’t notice her laptop was missing until the next Monday morning when she went to prepare for class. 

After searching for it, she immediately called ISU Police and reported the laptop stolen.

“We subpoenaed information technology services for information about usage records associated with that computer,” said ISU Police chief Jerry Stewart.

ISU Police received information Oct. 11 from technology services that it had tracked the laptop to Coover Hall by using the GPS coordinates connected to the laptop. 

They tracked the laptop to the Coover 2245, the general use auditorium.

“If you’re familiar with old auditoriums, back in the day, when they had projector booths, this person was inside and apparently attempted to flee,”

Stewart said.

Oung was using the laptop at the time, Stewart said.

“Why he chose to go into a locked room, we don’t know,” Stewart said. “It’s a very small projection booth with a table, and he was apparently underneath that table, lying on the floor.”

Stewart said someone had broken the electronic lock on the projection booth.

Oung tried to flee the scene and refused to identify himself to police. Oung was charged with criminal mischief and interference for trying to flee the scene and resist officers.

Police are trying to find where Oung was living.

“He had a backpack with some personal items in it, but where he was actually living and who with, if anybody, we don’t know at this point,” Stewart said.

ISU Police do not know why or how long Oung was in the projection booth. 

Stewart said that ISU Police was able to find both on- and off-campus addresses where the former student lived, but they have no recent residence information for Oung.

“He had an electronic access card, which appears to have been deactivated,” Stewart said. “It belonged to him, back when he was a student. Our records indicate he has not been a student since spring of 2012.”

Oung is in Story County jail on $10,000 bond. 

It is not yet known whether or not Oung will be deported. This depends on whether or not he is still classified as a legal international student.

“We did reach out on Friday to immigration and customs enforcement, and that will be up to ISU officials to determine whether he’s currently in status or out of status,” Stewart said.

Dawson said she wasn’t surprised to hear that Oung was in the projection booth.

“It’s a little weird, but people do weird stuff,” Dawson said. “I hope he enjoyed the geology lectures that I had on my laptop.”