University Employee Arrested; 8 Guns Seized
Police have seized eight guns and have arrested a University employee for allegedly making threats to co-workers in Athens.
On Fri., Dec. 14, responding to a report of threats, Ohio University Police Department (OUPD) arrested employee Stacy Gorham, 53, of Athens.
Police were acting on reports that Gorham allegedly made threatening remarks to coworkers about bringing a shotgun to work if the University took steps to end his employment. A utility worker with the University, Gorham believed he would be terminated for losing keys issued as part of his job.
Officers apprehended Gorham as he reported for work at approximately 4:30 p.m. Friday. After speaking with Gorham and eyewitnesses, officers obtained a search warrant for his residence at 30 Old Coach Road, Athens. With assistance from the Athens Police Department (APD), officers executed a search of Gorham’s property, seizing eight firearms, including two shotguns, two long rifles, an SKS, an AK-47 and two handguns, along with ammunition for each weapon.
After conferring with the prosecutor, Gorham was charged with inducing panic and possession of criminal tools, both first-degree misdemeanors. He was transported to the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail. Gorham posted bond Saturday and was released from custody. He was scheduled to appear in Athens Municipal Court today at 9:30 a.m.
The University has placed Gorham on administrative leave, and he has been ordered not to return to campus.
“This was an example of swift and close cooperation between University Human Resources, OUPD, APD and the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office,” said OUPD Chief Andrew Powers. “It demonstrates that our community responders have prepared for these types of incidents and respond quickly to potential threats.”
Powers also credits Gorham’s coworkers for taking the threats seriously and reporting them. Officers from both OUPD and APD participate in regular active shooter training, with many officers also certified to teach other members of law enforcement. Additionally, OUPD offers training for University departments, offices and student organizations on topics such as workplace violence and responding to an active shooter situation.
Local law enforcement agencies encourage everyone in the community to be alert and attentive to the suspicious comments of coworkers or friends who appear to be acting in a concerning manner and report such behavior immediately. If the concern involves violence, reports should be made directly to the police.
On the Ohio University campus, OUPD will meet with those making a report to review the situation and determine the potential for violence. In cases where there has been no criminal violation, but there is still a cause for concern, OUPD officers will work with those involved to develop a safety plan and monitor the situation.
THE FOLLOWING EMAIL WAS SENT TO STAFF AND STUDENTS:
On Friday, December 14th, responding to a report of threats, the Ohio University Police Department (OUPD) arrested one of our employees, who, according to eyewitness reports, allegedly made threatening remarks to coworkers about bringing a shotgun to work. After speaking with the emplo
yee and eyewitnesses, officers obtained a search warrant for the employee’s residence. Working with Athens Police Department (APD), officers executed a search of his property, seizing firearms, along with ammunition for each weapon.
This recent arrest of an Ohio University employee who allegedly made workplace violence threats provides an important reminder of the need to be aware of our surroundings and to alert officials to suspicious comments or behaviors by coworkers or others in the University community. Thanks to a concerned employee, who reported threatening comments made by a coworker, swift action was taken to ensure campus safety. The response by University Human Resources, OUPD, the APD, and the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office demonstrated their ability to thoroughly and quickly coordinate efforts to deal with potential threats. I want to thank them for their work.
There is an ongoing need for each one of us to be vigilant in promoting and preparing for threatening situations. For safety’s sake, threatening comments or suspicious actions must be taken seriously and reported immediately to appropriate authorities.
If you are concerned that an individual may do violence to himself or others, contact OUPD immediately. Our community responders are prepared and trained to handle, assess, and respond to concerning and threatening situations as well as evaluate the potential for future violence. If you are beginning to see signs that a coworker is having escalating difficulties coping with professional or personal issues, please contact University Human Resources. Likewise in the case of students, the Dean of Student’s Office can provide assistance through the Student Review and Consultation Committee.
I also want to remind you that the university’s weapons policy prohibits anyone from bringing or threatening to bring firearms onto our campuses or into any of our buildings.
If you have questions about our policies relating to this issue or any others connected to workplace violence or student conduct, please contact OUPD, University Human Resources, or the Dean of Student’s Office.
Again, I want to thank the employee who raised the concern, our first responders for their swift action, and all involved in the appropriate handling of this situation.
Roderick J. McDavis