HICKORY, N.C. -- Three university athletes were among four men arrested for their involvement in a chemical explosion inside a dorm bathroom earlier this week at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
Hickory police and firefighters responded to Morgan Dorm around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday after a reported explosion in one of the dorm's bathrooms. Firefighters said they found a device made from a plastic drink bottle that had exploded due to a chemical reaction from the contents inside.
Lenoir-Rhyne University students Michael Schlegelmilch, Steven McGhee, Dakota Meadows and Zachary Thomas each turned themselves in to police on Thursday and were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Thomas was a freshman offensive lineman on the football team during the 2011 season, according to the university's website. McGhee, 22, is listed as a goalkeeper for the Lenoir-Rhyne lacrosse team while Schlegelmilch, 20, started 10 of 13 games this past season as a defender.
Police said the four men confessed to what they called a prank. Officials said the students put household chemicals into a two liter plastic bottle to create the explosion, and the students said it was not intended to injure anyone.
“What they did, they should at least have a public apology for because it was a hazard to other people’s health,” said student Daniel Bullins.
“I think it was just a joke and they shouldn’t be in trouble,” said student John Remsen, who lives in the dorm where the bottle exploded. “They did it when no one was in the bathroom and no one would get hurt. They just thought it would be fun to make a loud sound.”
The school isn’t commenting about the status of the students or potential punishment, citing federal student privacy laws. The school has a code of conduct and handbook students are expected to follow.
All four men turned themselves in and were released from jail on Thursday afternoon.
No injuries or damages to property were reported.