American University professor David Pitts arrested on burglary, arson charges

American University Prof. David Pitts. (Photo: American University)

WASHINGTON (WJLA/AP) - An American University professor has been arrested and charged with breaking into a shopping mall near campus and allegedly setting a fire.

David Pitts - the university's chairman of the Department of Public Administration and Policy - was arrested by D.C. police and charged with burglary and destruction of property in the incident at 3 a.m. Thursday at the Foxhall Square Shopping Mall, located at 3300 New Mexico Ave. NW.

A police report accuses Pitts of breaking into the mall and setting a fire in its parking garage. Pitts was reportedly found with matches, lighters, gloves, a newspaper and black liquid substance. Plus, there was evidence of a small fire still visible.

In a statement issued Friday, American University said other faculty were taking over Pitts' duties following his arrest.

"Beginning immediately, Dr. Alison Jacknowitz will assume responsibilities as chair of the department, and we are making arrangements for other faculty to assume teaching responsibilities for Dr. Pitts’ classes," the university said.

According to Pitts' online resume, he has been at AU since 2005.