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Wednesday, January 30,2013

Armed robbery near campus leads OU to close classes for the day

Photo Credits: Joel Bissell for The Athens NEWS
Photo Caption: Two Ohio University Police men patrol the bottom corridor of Stocker Center as the rain steadily comes down on West Green. This was a precautionary measure after an armed robbery occurred on Station Street and witness saw the man flee towards Stocker Center with a blue hoodie and blue jeans and was reportedly armed.

Ohio University closed for the day midday Wednesday after reports that an armed robbery suspect was on the loose in the area. As of about 4 p.m., the man was reportedly still at large, and OU officials were still mulling whether to stay closed tomorrow. A scheduled home men's basketball game was also canceled at the university.

The university, however, does intend to reopen on Thursday (Jan. 31), officials announced Wednesday.

News of the armed robbery came into OU shortly before 9:30 a.m. that a man had robbed a woman at gunpoint at an Athens apartment complex, and reportedly fled onto the campus, where he was sighted near Stocker Center, with officers from OU and Athens Police in pursuit. OU officials followed the situation closely, and when the man had not been caught some two-and-a-half hours later, President Roderick McDavis chose around noon to cancel classes, and send home students, faculty and all non-essential staff – possibly close to 25,000 people in all.

During a telephonic news conference Wednesday afternoon with the fugitive still at large, McDavis defended his decision as neither too hasty nor too slow.

From about 9:30 till noon, he said, he and other top officials kept expecting to hear that the man had been arrested. "The sense that we had was that the suspect would be apprehended," he explained.

When that didn't happen, McDavis said, he opted for safe rather than sorry.

"If I err, I will always err on the side of safety for our students, faculty and staff," he declared.

Stephen T. Golding, vice president for finance and administration, added that when an armed man is spotted on campus, "that obviously represents a significant threat to our campus." However, he noted, all indications are that the man only ended up on campus because he was fleeing a crime scene.

"This did not appear to be somebody who was trying to do something (violent) on the campus," he said.

At about 1 p.m. Athens City Schools sent an electronic message to families saying that after consulting with Athens Police, they decided not to send students home early, though the schools were in lockdown status. The nearest schools to the crime scene weren't within easy walking distance.

By about 12:30 p.m., in the wake of the closure, a vast parade of umbrella-hoisting people was making its way north up a rain-soaked Court Street in Athens, in numbers far exceeding the usual lunchtime crowd.

"I think they shut down campus," reported one young man, walking with a woman as part of the moving crowd. "We just got kicked out of class."

McDavis said the university immediately activated its emergency communication system after learning of the robbery, getting the word out through email, its website and social media, and also sending text messages to all students, faculty and staff who had given OU their phone numbers for this purpose.

The robber, described as an African-American male in his mid-30s, 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 in height, wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans, reportedly used a semi-automatic handgun to rob a woman of $5 in a parking lot of the Station Street Apartments. He was seen fleeing toward the Stocker Center/Oxbow trail area.

Around 10 a.m. OU Student Affairs took precautionary measures, which included asking all in-hall residential housing staff to have a presence in their buildings/common areas to answer questions and provide advice to students. (Residence halls are locked at all times in any case.) OU also stationed full-time staff at all entrances of Baker Center, and recreation facilities such as Ping Center, Bird Arena and the Aquatic Center, to report suspicious activity.

As the crowd streamed up Court Street Wednesday, one woman – who asked to remain anonymous, citing the fact that she is in the military – reported that OU had put the word out about the shutdown through multiple channels, including Twitter, text messages to student phones, and an alert on the front page of its website.

Julie White, an associate professor of political science, said she got the word "in the middle of a faculty meeting," first by text message, then confirmed by a secretary in Bentley Hall.

Mid-afternoon Wednesday, some students appeared to be making light of the crisis, issuing a Twitter alert for "Fugitive-Fest" at local bars, and indeed the bars seemed to be enjoying an unusual amount of Wednesday afternoon activity.

At Wednesday's phone news conference, McDavis said that after canceling classes, "it just seemed natural" to also cancel the men's basketball game, which would have drawn crowds of students and townspeople alike back to campus. He added that Athletic Director Jim Schaus is actually the one who recommended the cancellation. That game, with Eastern Michigan, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Convocation Center.


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I have some comments here, and they are not going to be without flak - which I understand. Ok now, lets debate.

I attended ohio university in the 90s and it was a far different, safer place. We had 2 stranger rapes during the 5 years I attended the school (94 thru 99). No robberies.

My own observations from direct (ie. observed) and indirect (news articles, etc.) show me that there is a different kind of people who are associating themselves with athens now - due to their connections with ohio university or connections with someone else who has connections through ohio university.

Heres some of the observations Ive noted in recent years:

-A drug-related murder in Lakeview apts (name changed) in 2004?

-A strong-armed robbery near washington st. about 2 years ago. (guy punched someone in the face walking home from the bars and robbed him of his wallet).

- armed robbery (this summer) of 2 students at the new apartments on top of the hill behind Ohio U Inn (coates runs apartments)?

-A reported armed robbery at an uptown business (coldstone creamery?) in 2010?  

-2? Stranger rapes behind a church off Stewart St last school year

- Stranger rape off of Grosvenor St last school year?  

-felonious assault (ohio u football player) outside Washington hall this year.

I still regularly visit ohio u all the time as my friends kids and stuff go there which gives me and my alumni friends an 'excuse' to go back to campus.

I remember recently I was 'threatened' at a bar (Pigskin) because I took a picture of some friends and someone who claimed: they-didnt-want-their-picture to be taken demanded I give them my camera. I suspect it was a strong-arm robbery attempt of my smartphone and I had to outrun the suspect to avoid being attacked or have my phone stolen. Im not going to give a description of the suspect but I will say the description of the suspect is a factor in my conclusion that it was a robbery attempt.

My opinion is that the current administration at ohio university is responsible for 90% of the increase in new types of crimes at ohio university.

The current recruitment efforts of the school's sports teams are ignorant of youth's past (juvenile records) and such in the hopes of recruiting top athletes. The current sports teams recruitment efforts seem to target young men from communities where crime is rampant.

Sometimes, its not the young student-athletes, but rather their non-scholar 'friends' who come in from out-of-town and cause problems. They think they can come to town and sell drugs here, prostitution or do other illegal activities.

Other times it can be some of the student-athletes themselves. A recent example would be the football player who felonious assault/ broke-up someone's face sitting on a bench outside Washington Hall.

Some of the other factors are a huge push from the ohio u administration's to increase the membership of students from crime-ridden communities here. Free scholarships and stuff like that are awarded to those that come here from those kinds of communities where tough guy crime is accepted and required to 'survive'.

The administration needs to be aware of these people's youth offenses and also the type of characters people from crime-ridden communities may bring into the athens community.

Some of them are good people.  I had some urban scholar friends and we had a great time at ohio university (regrettably, one died while he was a student at ohio u).

Some of them arent good people. I remember a couple people who openly hated athens and were only there because of the free scholarship.

Since safety is of uptmost concern, I wont be sending my daughter to ohio u until the administration cleans the place up.

Or maybe until Ohio U cleans the current administration up.

Athens is meant to be an isolated community free from the evils of the world.

Unfortunately current high-paid Ohio U administration has managed to find a way to bring those evils from the big city right into town.



I want to add:

It would be helpful if the OUPD and APD questioned any non-students they arrest for these types of crimes as to why they are here and what they are doing in athens.;

If the reason comes back to a current student or student-athlete's name the university needs to see if they can expel that student or student-athlete.

Its also scary that a lot of these crimes arent being solved either - leaving the community open to future attacks.  

Possibly people are afraid to 'snitch' just like they are in the big city.



jinxer, really?  you think that the crime rate in Athens is a direct result of the OU admin and sports recruiting?  are you on crack?

Yes, some student athletes have complexes and delusions of increased importance (armond basset punching a door guy at a bar in the face), but that isnt the issue.  

Athens is still a safe place, try sending your daughter to OSU or Cinci or Akron or ANYWHERE and you are going to find crime of some sort.  Worse than OU.  

There is no "safe eutopia" that you are talking about.  I was confronted once in college (10-15 years ago) by three white frat guys in the bathroom of the CI for no reason other than they wanted to get in a fight one night.  

The current administration has nothing to do with any of it.  From what I have seen, the majority of the issues stem from the kids that have a sence of entitlement and the friends they bring to town.  


Ok at least we have some common ground:

we are on the same page about 'the friends they bring into town'.

but I dont suspect surbanite kids have 'friends they bring into town' that gunpoint rob people or come to sell drugs here.

Sure they might bring friends into town that get arrested for public intoxication or starting a drunken brawl during halloween.

My question to you is where are these people coming from? Why do they come to athens?

Perhaps we can agree that athens is not a safer place than it was in the 90s

Why is that?


Jinxer: Your comments are simply vailed racism.

All people from urban areas are criminals, think criminal thoughts, have criminal friends, and should be guilty by association?

I'd argue that OU is a safer and better place now than when you attended, and that the students and citizens are more aware of how to properly report crime.

I'm sure in your idyllic suburban or rural area that there are many, many crimes that occur, violence that takes place, and neighbors that are assaulted sexually that are not reported.

I'm sad that your rambling observations that lack facts that back them up, are coming from a fellow alumnus.

I'm guessing you wouldn't have spouted your crap if the the robber was described as an white male in his mid-30s, 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-2 in height, wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans.

Crawl back under your bridge.



In the 7 years I have been at OU (06-present), there has been a relatively low rate of crime when compared to other university towns. Of course I have seen drunken fights and felt a little uneasy walking home at times, but in general I feel safe. The greatest part about OU is that Bobcats watch out for eachother. There are exceptions, but I've walked friends home, had friends walk me home, called an ambulance for someone who passed out on the sidewalk, and called the cops when some guy from out of town knocked out another kid and took off. The majority of OU students have a sense of pride and feel connected to their fellow students. No other university compares.


Also, OU not only swarmed the area around the robbery with cops, but also provided extra security throughout the day until they closed the university. Would OSU respond like that? No. OU puts student and staff saftey above all else. I think the administration has it's priorities in order in this department. 



If OSU closed every time someone got mugged near their campus they'd never have class. Ohio U's over-reaction to err on the side of safety proves how little actual crime occurs here and how America's collective weapons freakout is playing out in a media induced fear based reaction to everything. I'd agree many of the real crimes that do happen in the City of Athens are perpetrated by visitors or temporary citizens here for an education. We just import the trouble from the rest of society outside of the college town bubble. 

I'm waiting for James Yerian's post about how President Obama's policies are the cause of all of this panic over a mugging and if only there weren't so many gun hating liberals in this town then we'd have caught and shot/lynched the perp by now.