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Suspicious package’ prompts campus crime alert

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

It’s not often that a beeping, flashing alarm system sets off an Ohio State campus crime alert.
A “suspicious package at (South Campus) Gateway” prompted a campus crime alert at about 9:40 a.m. on Thursday, according to a call from the Buckeye Alert system.
A Columbus Police Department officer on the scene told onlookers that a robbery suspect removed an alarm system from Barnes and Noble while attempting to evade officers who were trying to stop him. Just after exiting the building, the suspect dropped the alarm, which was a box with wires coming out of it, and the decision was made to evacuate the area.
Barnes and Noble was evacuated, as well as several other buildings in the area, according to the Columbus Police Department.
The officer declined comment to The Lantern.
A Gateway security officer found the “package” lying on the sidewalk around 8:54 a.m. and flagged down a passing CPD officer, said Chief Paul Denton of Ohio State Police.
When investigated, however, it was discovered it was not a bomb, according to dispatch.
University Police, CPD and Columbus Fire and Bomb Squad all responded to the call because the Gateway area is owned by the university, but CPD covers the garage, businesses and bars while University Police covers OSU offices and residential halls through an agreement, Denton said.
At about 10:05 a.m., Buckeye Alert subscribers were informed that the area was “all clear” and they could “resume normal activities,” according to a text from the alert system.
Some OSU students had classes in the Gateway area that were cancelled, but not until after they arrived.
“I had a bio class at 9:35 and at like 9:33 or 9:34, I was at the corner of 11th and High … They had police tape all the way across from Panera’s door to Barnes and Noble’s door (in addition to) probably 10 cop cars and a fire truck,” said Chris Gerace, a first-year in biology.
Gerace said that he found his teaching assistant in the area and was able to get inside, where he was surprised to find out class was going on as usual.
“Our professor was like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on but we’re going to keep going,’ which was a little weird,” Gerace said.
Class was then called off as students told the teacher about the Buckeye Alerts they were receiving on their phones, informing them that all of Gateway was supposed to evacuate, Gerace said.
Gerace, though, added he wasn’t worried throughout the whole experience.
“At first it more like intrigued me, like what was going on, and then I was more hoping that class would get cancelled,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but as I was walking out (of class), I was kind of thinking, ‘What if it is a bomb? We’re in a horrible position right now.'”
Other OSU students also weren’t concerned when they got the alert on their cell phones.
“I didn’t really think much of it. I just assumed it was like nothing serious,” said Marissa McHugh, a first-year in chemical engineering. “I was at the library studying.”

Representatives from Barnes and Noble and South Campus Gateway were unable to comment on the situation.

The public information officers at CPD, CDF and University Police were not able to be reached for immediate, updated comment Thursday evening.

Cody Cousino contributed to this article. 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 21, 2013

An earlier version of this story said that the Gateway area is partially owned by the university and partially privately owned. In fact, the Gateway area is owned by the university, but CPD covers the garage, businesses and bars while University Police covers OSU offices and residential halls through an agreement.

 

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