SIU student accused of shooting threat released on bond

This photo released by the Madison County, Ill., Sheriff shows Olutosin Oduwole, a Southern Illinois University student who was arrested Tuesday, July 24, 2007, after he allegedly threatened a murderous rampage similar to the Virginia Tech sho Madison County Sheriff from Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS

This photo released by the Madison County, Ill., Sheriff shows Olutosin Oduwole, a Southern Illinois University student who was arrested Tuesday, July 24, 2007, after he allegedly threatened a “murderous rampage” similar to the Virginia Tech sho Madison County Sheriff from Associated Press

By Jim Suhr

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A Southern Illinois University student accused of writing a note threatening a “murderous rampage” similar to the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech was freed from jail Wednesday after posting a $110,000 cash bond.

The university in this St. Louis suburb moved swiftly to warn students and employees by e-mail and on its Web site of Olutosin Oduwole’s release.

“Please be on the alert for any alarming or suspicious activity surrounding the recent charges against this individual,” the advisory read.

“This is really just to keep our campus community informed,” not to reflect any unease at the school about the newly freed Oduwole, SIU spokeswoman Bethany Forsythe said. “We were just proactive in posting this information so (those at the university) know where things stand.”

Authorities have said a note found by campus police July 20 in Oduwole’s disabled car did not specifically mention targeting the Edwardsville campus. The note, authorities say, said “a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university” if Oduwole wasn’t paid $50,000. “THIS IS NOT A JOKE!” the note read.

Oduwole’s attorneys have dismissed the note as the harmless scrawlings of an aspiring rapper.

As a condition of his bond, Oduwole – who has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to make a terrorist threat, computer fraud and felony theft – was barred from entering school grounds or coming within 1,500 feet of the university after prosecutors argued that the school “has reason to be concerned of the defendant causing harm to anyone at the university.”

Oduwole, 22, was not allowed by his attorney to talk with reporters as he walked out of the Madison County Jail on Wednesday for the first time since his arrest July 20 at his on-campus apartment.

After posting 10 percent of his $1.1 million bond, Oduwole climbed into the back seat of a rented 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle with Michigan plates and was driven away. His father drove, with Oduwole’s attorney, Patricia Dennis, in the front passenger seat. She declined comment.

Oduwole’s whereabouts were not immediately clear later Wednesday.

On Friday, a judge refused to lower Oduwole’s bond, appearing unconvinced by claims that the student posed no public threat and would appear for future court appearances, if released.

Philip Dennis, Patricia Dennis’ stepson, who’s also representing Oduwole, has portrayed his client as a “churchgoing Christian, not a fundamentalist extremist.” Dennis insisted that the legal troubles of Oduwole, the newly elected president of his fraternity at the school, were traceable to his client’s foreign-sounding last name and the “terror shock” he said has gripped the country.

Prosecutor John Fischer argued that Oduwole deserved the bond he received because of the alleged threat, scrawled on paper that also included rap lyrics, combined with the aspiring rapper’s alleged attempt to buy firepower online. Oduwole also was seen at least once wearing a bullet-resistant vest on campus, authorities have alleged.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday. But Smith said the case was to be presented to a grand jury Thursday morning, with an indictment forgoing a possible preliminary hearing.