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SUICIDE BOMBER IN OKLAHOMA

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 2, 2005 01:38 PM

***scroll down for updates…dead man identified as 21-year-old engineering student Joel Henry Hinrichs***

Strange, disturbing news out of Norman, Oklahoma via Yahoo/AP:

One person was killed in an explosion near a packed football stadium at the University of Oklahoma on Saturday night in what authorities said appeared to be a suicide.

The blast, in a traffic circle about 100 yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, could be heard by some in the crowd of 84,000, but university President David Boren said no one inside the stadium was ever in danger.

“We are apparently dealing with an individual suicide, which is under full investigation,” Boren said in a statement. There was no information about the person who was killed, and no reports of any other injuries.

A police bomb squad detonated explosives found at the site of the blast. The area near the stadium was searched by bomb-sniffing dogs.

The Daily Oklahoman (reg required) adds:

A statement from OU president David Boren called the explosion “an individual suicide.” The identity of the person killed was not known.

A second device was found in the area and detonated by police around 9:05 p.m.

The first explosion happened during the second quarter of Oklahoma’s game against Kansas State. It was unclear late Saturday night if terrorism played a role in the explosions, said Sgt. Gary Robinson of the university police department.

“We had no idea of any threat this week,” Robinson said.

Several hours after the first explosion, hazardous device teams continued to comb the area for additional explosives while more than 80,000 fans tried to leave the stadium. People were funneled to the east and south of the stadium, causing snarls in traffic.

According to Robinson, the first explosion occurred in a courtyard just west of George Lynn Cross Hall, the botany-microbiology building, which is located across Asp Ave. from the stadium. It was unclear where the second explosive device was found…

…After the first explosion, police brought in a robot designed to remove and detonate explosive devices. The hazardous device unit was already at the game as a routine precaution.

Am scouring reports/sources for any news of the bomber’s identity. Stay tuned…

***
Update: Curt at Flopping Aces has extensive coverage, a campus map, photos, witness reports, and questions.

Jim Hoft has more.

The Norman Transcript provides more details (hat tip: Laura Lee Donoho)

The investigation into an apparent suicide bombing on the University of Oklahoma campus Saturday evening moved to the nearby Parkview Apartment complex early today.

Law enforcement authorities evacuated about 35 residents of the university-owned complex this morning. The apartments are south of the Brandt Park Duck Pond on Lindsey Street and about half a mile from the blast site.

…Early Sunday, Norman police, OU police, FBI and other federal agents were combing the scene.
On Saturday, Boren said he ordered a search of the garage area near the stadium along with lower levels outside the stadium.
The suicide happened in or near the George Lynn Cross botany/microbiology building the oval’s east side.

Damage to the microbiology building or any other structure couldn’t be seen from the distant perimeter. Sgt. Gary Robinson of OUPD confirmed one death, but gave no further details on the person or whether anyone else was injured. He said detectives were unable to investigate the scene right away because other personnel needed time to thoroughly sweep the area for additional explosive devices.

“One fatality is all we know right now,” he said.

Student Keaton Fuchs of the cable television station TV4OU had a video camera at the stadium’s highest level. He turned toward the South Oval right after the explosion and saw a small amount of gray smoke rising from the botany/microbiology building.

***
Update II: Stephen Spruiell, who had family members at the game, has the latest–including info on the identity of the suicide bomber. He links to the OU Daily, which corrects previous erroneous reports on that second device. Excerpt from the OU Daily’s timeline:

4:05 p.m. — Joel Henry Hinrichs, 21, engineering junior and Triangle fraternity member, was identified as the individual killed in the bombing at a 4 p.m. press conference with Boren at Evans Hall.

4 p.m. — The FBI took over as the lead agency investigating the bombing Saturday during the OU football game against Kansas State. Three buses have been wiped down and sprayed, clearing the remains of the suicide bomber. The buses are still parked on the South Oval.

The scene is very calm right now. Children and former OU head football coach Barry Switzer were biking around the South Oval. A policeman is still stationed near a small 6-by-1 ft. roped-off area in front of G.L. Cross Hall, but all other areas that were blocked following the game are now open.

Catherine Bishop, vice president for Public Affairs, confirmed at 1:45 p.m. today that classes will still be held Monday.

More information will be available following a 4 p.m. press conference.

3: 15 p.m. — OU President David L. Boren released a second statement Sunday confirming that there was no second device. Early reports that there was a second device were incorrect. The second detonation was the bomb squad making sure there was no second device in the area.

OUDaily.com has also learned that as of 3:15 p.m. Sunday, class will be held Monday as scheduled. More information will be posted here as it becomes available.

Link to FBI statement here (PDF).

More on Hinrichs via KKTV:

A student telephone book lists Hinrichs with a permanent address in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Hinrichs, a 2002 Wasson High School graduate, was killed when an explosive device detonated around eight p-m last night near Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, where more than 8400 people were watching the Oklahoma Sooners play the Kansas State in a Big 12 Conference game.

There were no other reports of injuries and OU President David Boren says spectators were never in danger.

Hinrich’s father, Joel Henry Hinrichs Junior, says he and his son exchanged several e-mails in the last month and nothing seemed out the ordinary.

Jim Hartline, a blogger who studies at the school, checked out the scene and has some observations.

Joel Henry Hinrichs’ fraternity, the Triangle Fraternity, has issued a statement here.

Update III: The Dallas Morning News profiles Hinrichs–a student with “a history of emotional problems.”

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