OU Police Chief: Armed Robbery Suspect Not Likely In Athens

By
Bethany Venable
Atish Baidya
Taylor Mirfendereski

Dateline
Updated Thu, Jan 31, 2013 2:11 am

UPDATE 7:50 PM Ohio University's police chief says it is unlikely that the armed robbery suspect responsible for the university's closure Wednesday is still in the Athens area.

Chief Andrew Powers said additional police officers will remain on duty throughout the night as a measure of precaution. He said additional officers were called in this morning to help locate the suspect, but there have been no confirmed sightings since police responded to the incident this morning. 

"We've had a lot of calls from people who matched the description we provided, but no confirmed sightings, so that's why I don't believe there is an ongoing threat to the campus as a result of the incident this morning," said Powers. 

The search for the armed fugitive began around 10 a.m. after the police department learned of an armed robbery that had taken place at the Station Street apartments.

A woman told police she was robbed at gunpoint of $5 in the parking lot of the apartments. The incident happened around 9:20 a.m.

She told police the suspect had a semi-automatic hand gun.

The suspect, described as a black male in his 30's about 6' 1" or 6' 2" in height, reportedly fled the scene wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, and was last spotted headed in the direction of the Stocker Center/Oxbow Trail area.

OU students and staff received emergency text alerts around 10 a.m. Wednesday and the campus closed by noon.

Classes and activities at OU's Athens campus are expected to resume as normal Thursday.

Wednesday was the first time the university has closed for non-weather related reasons since OU President Roderick McDavis took office, but not the first time an armed fugitive has been sighted near OU's Athens campus. 

On Jan. 26, 2012, OU students and staff received text alerts about Billy Caudill, a bank robbery suspect considered armed and dangerous who was sighted near the Athens campus. 

Powers said the police department followed a similar procedure Wednesday while responding to the armed robbery report. 


UPDATE 5:47 PM Classes and activities at Ohio University's Athens campus will resume as normal Thursday following a manhunt that closed the Athens campus Wednesday afternoon.

According to a report on the emergency page of the university's website, OUPD Police Chief Andrew Powers said there is no reason to believe there is an on-going threat to campus.

The university closed after a reported armed robbery at an apartment complex near campus led police on a search for the suspect, who was reportedly carrying a semi-automatic handgun.

The suspect, described as a black male about 6' 1" or 6' 2" in height, was last seen wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans heading in the direction of the university.

Students and staff received emergency text alerts around 10 a.m. Wednesday and the campus closed by noon.

OU staff and student are asked to remain aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to OU police.


UPDATE 4:11 P.M. Ohio University's top administrators will meet with OU and Athens police Wednesday afternoon to determine if the university should re-open Thursday in the wake of a manhunt that closed the Athens campus Wednesday.

In a conference call with reporters, OU President Roderick McDavis said top administrators will meet with law enforcement and make a decision by 5 p.m.

"If in fact we make a decision to re-open the campus tomorrow morning and the suspect has not been apprehended, we will certainly do that with great caution from the standpoint of notifying our students, faculty and staff of everything that we know and asking them to take every precaution should we re-open the campus in the morning," said McDavis.

The university closed after a reported armed robbery at an apartment complex near campus led police on a search for the suspect, who was reportedly carrying a semi-automatic handgun.

A woman reported to police that she had been held up at gunpoint and robbed of $5 around 9:30 a.m.

OU students and staff received text message alerts around 10 a.m.

McDavis said he did not initially make the call to close the university, believing the suspect would be caught soon.

"Up to that point, neither the Ohio University Police Department or the Athens Police Department gave us any sense that the suspect was a danger to our community," he said.  "So at no point did we ever receive word that they suspect was a danger to our community, but we felt it was in the best interest of safety to ensure that at least we had notified our students, faculty and staff that we were cancelling classes."

Approximately 2,500 non-essential employees were sent home and classes were cancelled Wednesday afternoon.

Students were asked to return to their residence halls or apartments.

It is the first time in McDavis' presidency that the university has closed for non-weather related reasons.
 


UPDATE 3:02 P.M. Ohio University Athens' campus dining halls will be open Wednesday night, although the university remains closed as police continue to search for an armed fugitive last seen near the campus.

According to the university's emergency page, other culinary venues such as those in Baker University Center and Alden Library, are closed.

Evening events planned to take place in Baker University Center are cancelled, as is the men's basketball game against Eastern Michigan University.

The game has been rescheduled for February 20 at 7 p.m.

In an email to the university community, OU President Roderick McDavis writes classes and activities will resume as normal Thursday, unless students and staff are otherwise notified.


UPDATE 2:30 P.M. The Ohio University men's home basketball game against Eastern Michigan is the latest cancellation after the search for an armed fugitive closed the university's Athens campus.

Tipoff was scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

University officials made the official announcement on the school's website just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.  Classes were cancelled and students were asked to return to their dorms and apartments and non-essential employees were sent home.

The university will re-open Thursday morning.

Athens City Schools were also placed on lockdown.

According to a message sent to parents by Superintendent Carl Martin, the school district is not dismissing early.

Martin said he is acting under advice from Athens Police, who have told him they do not believe the school district is in any "imminent danger."

The search for the armed fugitive began around 10 a.m. after OUPD learned of an armed robbery that had taken place at the Station Street apartments.

A woman told police she was robbed at gunpoint of $5 in the parking lot of the apartments. The incident happened around 9:20 a.m.

She told police the suspect had a semi-automatic hand gun.

The suspect reportedly fled the scene and was last spotted headed in the direction of the Stocker Center/Oxbow Trail area.

Additional law enforcement officers have been brought in to search for the suspect. 

Anyone with information is asked to call OUPD at 740-593-1911.


UPDATE 1:12 P.M. Athens City Schools are on lockdown as the search for an armed fugitive continues near Ohio University's Athens campus.

According to a message sent to parents by Superintendent Carl Martin, the school district is not dismissing early.

Martin says he is acting under advice from Athens Police, who have told him they do not believe the school district is in any "imminent danger."


UPDATE 12:13 P.M. Ohio University is closing effective immediately, following reports of an armed suspect at large near the campus, according to OU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi.

Lombardi tweeted that OU President Roderick McDavis made the decision as a precautionary measure. Students are asked to return to their dorm rooms and apartments.

Lombardi says notifications will be sent out shortly.

The university will re-open Thursday morning.

The search for the armed fugitive began around 10 a.m. after OUPD learned of an armed robbery that had taken place at the Station Street apartments.

A woman told police she was robbed at gunpoint of $5 in the parking lot of the apartments. The incident happened around 9:20 a.m.

She told police the suspect had a semi-automatic hand gun.

The suspect reportedly fled the scene and was last spotted headed in the direction of the Stocker Center/Oxbow Trail area.

Additional law enforcement officers have been brought in to search for the suspect. 

Anyone with information is asked to call OUPD at 740-593-1911.


UPDATE 11:30 A.M. Ohio University is not on lockdown following reports of an armed robbery and fugitive on the loose, according to the university's website.

OU's emergency page  reports extra staff will be manning entrances of Baker University Center, Bird Arena, Ping Center and the Aquatic Center.

All four buildings are in the general area where the suspect was last seen.

Anyone with information on the suspect's whereabouts or anyone who has seen suspicious activity is asked to call OUPD at 740-593-1911.


UPDATE 11:10 A.M. Additional law enforcement officers are assisting in the search for a man Ohio University police are calling "armed and dangerous" following an armed robbery Wednesday morning.

According to a tweet from OU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi (@OHIOVP), police are still searching for the suspect.

Lombardi also advises the university community to stay alert and report any suspicious activity to OUPD at 740-593-1911.

The search for the armed fugitive began around 10 a.m. after OUPD learned of an armed robbery that had taken place at the Station Street apartments.

A woman told police she was robbed at gunpoint of $5 in the parking lot of the apartments. The incident happened around 9:20 a.m.

She told police the suspect had a semi-automatic hand gun.

The suspect reportedly fled the scene and was last spotted headed in the direction of the Stocker Center/Oxbow Trail area.


UPDATE 10:26 A.M. OUPD reports suspect was seen fleeing in the direction of Stocker Center/Oxbow Trail area.

Anyone with information on the armed suspect's whereabouts are asked to call OUPD at 740-593-1911.


The Ohio University Police Department is advising the university community to be on the lookout for an armed fugitive near campus.

In a text message sent to students, police alert that the armed fugitive is reportedly in the Station Street/Stocker Center area.

A message on the emergency information page reads:

At 9:54 a.m. Wednesday January 30th, OUPD reported an armed robbery in Station Street Apartments. An armed and dangerous individual described as an African-American male, 6'1"--6'2" in height, wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans and carrying a handgun, was seen fleeing in the direction of campus. The individual should be considered an armed fugitive.

WOUB News will update as details become available. 

Tags: