In what must be the least surprising news item of the day, the law firm that was planning on hiring Brian Schroeder — the 26-year-old Harvard Law School grad suspected of setting a fire in a chapel containing the remains of unidentified victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — has revoked its offer. The firm Sidley Austin recanted on its decision to hire Schroeder, who turned himself in to police after setting a blaze on Saturday morning that destroyed flowers, photos, and other mementos inside Memorial Park on the corner of First Avenue and East 30th Street. According to cops, he set the fire on a drunk dare, but Schroeder's attorney claims the Texas native, who moved to New York to accept the law job, had been drugged.
Either way, the law firm nixed its decision to hire "New York's newest Public Enemy No. 1" — who before becoming the city's best known suspected arsonist was apparently his high school's valedictorian, a national merit scholar, editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review and co-president of Lambda, a gay rights student group.
According to Schroeder's mom, her son — who had deferred his job offer at the Sidley Austin for one year to do human rights and international law work in Switzerland — has no idea why he set the fire. "He doesn't really have any explanation or memory of what took place... Now, he's just trying to minimize the damage to his career and make amends. You know, take responsibility and move on."
For Schroeder, taking responsibility and moving on apparently means setting his Facebook profile — which included a Friday status update stating “Brian Schroeder is all tattooed and ready to go" — to private, a move he made promptly after being released last night on bail. The Daily News now reports that Schroeder is out of jail, going against previous reports that his friends couldn't scrape together enough cash to pay his $3,000 bail.
The legal tabloid Above the Law reached out to Harvard Law students who were stunned that Schroeder — who reportedly was among many incoming associates being paid $75,000 per year to work pro bono until January 2011 — would commit arson:
"Everyone I know here is shocked. We know Brian as a kind, outgoing, thoughtful and funny person. He was really involved at school, and is an incredibly fun person to be around. I can’t defend what he did, and no one here knows what could have possibly possessed him to do it, but he is not the evil, selfish person people are portraying him as. I know bold, entitled, self-involved Harvard types, and Brian is not one of them. It was an indescribably stupid thing to do but not something anyone at Harvard thought he was capable of. People here are also concerned about the homophobia and bigotry that animates many of the comments about what happened. There are concerns that the emotions surrounding the 9/11 tragedy will set him up to be crucified. But to those who know him this is extremely surprising, and saddening, because a very talented and usually thoughtful person has probably thrown away his bright future over what was likely a thoroughly stupid drunken mistake."