Last updated Dec. 6, 4:04 p.m.
By Noah Manskar, Editor-in-Chief
News Editor Spenser Hickey contributed reporting to this story.
A former Ohio Wesleyan student is out of jail awaiting indictment after being arrested and charged with inducing panic, a second-degree felony.
Delaware Police Department (DPD) arrested junior Brian Bowers on Dec. 3, the same day a report was filed that he threatened to kill people at the university, according to Sgt. John Radabaugh.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Rohrer said Bowers threatened use of a firearm against specific people and the university at large. A statement from University President Rock Jones said he was never known to have had a weapon on campus.
Cole Hatcher, director of Media and Community Relations, said Bowers made the threats via text messages and non-public Twitter exchanges.
Radabaugh said DPD made the arrest so quickly because of the gravity of the situation.
“I think, certainly, if you look at probably the past decade of American history, if there are threats of violence against the school, they have to be taken very seriously,” he said.
Director of Public Safety (PS) Robert Wood said Bowers was off-campus when PS was notified of the incident around 11:10 a.m. on Dec. 3. He turned himself in to DPD voluntarily after another local law enforcement agency located him.
Wood said PS notified Student Affairs and DPD immediately after the threats were reported.
Rohrer said Bowers has waived his right to a preliminary hearing. A grand jury now has 60 days to bring an indictment against him in the Court of Common Pleas, where felonies are tried.
Bowers is being monitored by a GPS tracking device and is prohibited from entering OWU property or making contact with anyone at the university. The terms of his release say he must seek mental health treatment and, if recommended, enter a restricted-access mental health facility.
Rohrer said the court issued the order because there were indications Bowers was struggling with mental health issues.
Radabaugh said DPD does not encounter many cases like this. Hatcher said he cannot recall another similar incident in his time at OWU.
Rohrer said most cases of inducing panic he has seen in his time as a prosecutor involve juveniles perpetrating a “really bad prank.”
“These things that Mr. Bowers said go beyond the realm of a prank,” he said.
Rohrer said Bowers could be sentenced to a prison term of two to eight years according to the felony statute.
Read University President Rock Jones’s full statement on the incident below:
Dear Campus Community,
I write today to inform you of a serious incident involving one of our students. The student made threats of violence against the campus via private electronic messages.
He has since been arrested and arraigned on a second-degree felony charge of inducing panic. There is no evidence that he ever had a weapon on campus, and he no longer is enrolled here.
That said, both Ohio Wesleyan and local authorities take such instances very seriously. We are committed to providing a safe environment for all students, employees, and guests.
During the student’s court appearance, he was barred from being on campus and from having contact with anyone at Ohio Wesleyan. He currently is free on bond and must wear an electronic GPS tracking device. He is not allowed on campus, and his case now is being handled by the Delaware Police Department.
Our first concern today is for the well-being of each member of the OWU community. Ohio Wesleyan is deeply committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for everyone. Please know that our counseling and Chaplain’s staffs are available to assist anyone who wishes to discuss thoughts and feelings about this incident.
Counseling Services provides same-day walk-in crisis consultation hours at 11 a.m. Monday and Tuesday and at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
The University has a clear plan and strict protocols for dealing with these types of serious issues, and those protocols were followed in this case. As soon as employees became aware of the situation, Ohio Wesleyan took immediate and appropriate action. The University also reviews critical incident plans routinely and will do so in this case to determine whether anything more could have, or should have, been done to promote campus safety.
Public Safety routinely reminds us to look out for one another and report issues of concern. Today, I would like to reiterate this important message. We often refer to ourselves as a Bishop family, and I believe this is true – we are, indeed, a family.
I encourage you to support one another and protect one another by sharing any safety or welfare concerns with Public Safety as soon as they arise so that we may begin to address them immediately.
Thank you for your time, your attention, and, most importantly, your actions to help make OWU a safer harbor for us all.