College Student Accused of Terror Threat

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.
He seemed in many ways a typical
college student — president of his fraternity at Southern Illinois University,
an aspiring rapper who wrote about finding a girlfriend who could cook. He
said his favorite book was the Bible.

But Olutosin
Oduwole also had not-so-typical interests, like buying and selling guns on the
Internet. He allegedly sold a fully automatic M-16 assault rifle he never
owned. And a court document says he was seen walking around campus wearing a
bullet-resistant vest in May.

Then came the
news this week: Police said they found a handwritten note inside his car
threatening a “murderous rampage” similar to the one at Virginia Tech that left
32 people and the gunman dead.

On Wednesday,
Oduwole’s 22nd birthday, he pleaded not guilty to making a terrorist threat, a
felony. He was being held Thursday on $1.1 million bail.

While Oduwole’s
friends and others say the purchase of weapons and his sometimes-violent rap
lyrics add up to a misunderstanding, police suspect he had violence on his
mind.

“The note was
just one piece of the puzzle,” says Otis Steward, an investigator who says
Oduwole’s allegedly fraudulent sale of a gun he never owned and his recent
quest for more firepower raised the level of police concern.

At the time of
Oduwole’s arrest, federal authorities had been investigating a gun dealer’s
concerns that Oduwole seemed overly eager to receive guns he had purchased
online.

That alleged
plot was revealed, authorities say, on a piece of paper found inside Oduwole’s
car July 20. Rap lyrics were scrawled on one side of the sheet and part of the
flipside, where authorities found the words that troubled them.

The note, police
say, demanded payment to a PayPal account, threatening, “if this account
doesn’t reach $50,000 in the next seven days then a murderous rampage similar
to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university. THIS IS
NO JOKE.”

The writer
suggested the shooting would target a “prestigious” university, but that word
was crossed out. There was no direct mention of SIU, 13,500-student university
about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis.

At Oduwole’s
university apartment, police said they discovered a loaded gun and, according
to a search warrant, a photograph of Oduwole flashing gang signs.

Oduwole was
legally entitled to purchase the firearms, but federal authorities, with help
from the dealer, intercepted the weapons.

The arrest was
an “absolute misunderstanding,” says Steve Holman, a 24-year-old SIU senior who
identified himself as Oduwole’s friend.

John Cernkovich, who
until Wednesday was Oduwole’s attorney in the fraud and theft case, says his
client was a victim of circumstances.

“I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I
understand that in this environment — post Sept. 11 — authorities don’t take
any chances,” he says.

– Associated Press

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