By Caleb Bissinger
John Freeman, Gambier resident, former employee of the Village Market and familiar face to many students, was arrested in December after threatening to shoot Kenyon students so that police would shoot him.
Students at the Village Inn bar on Dec. 11 overheard Freeman make the alleged threat against Kenyon students and reported the incident to Campus Safety. Campus Safety notified the Sheriff’s office and Freeman was arrested at his Gambier home without incident. Deputies found a semi-automatic rifle and accompanying magazines, but no ammunition.
Freeman was charged with inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor, and was released on a $10,000 bond on Sunday, Dec. 12, after the staff of the Moundbuilders Guidance Center conducted a mental-health assessment.
The College issued a school-wide lock policy on Monday, Dec. 13 and increased the number of security personnel on campus. According to a release by President S. Georgia Nugent’s office, “The Knox County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to increase the number of patrols it makes in Gambier for the immediate future. In addition, the College is hiring special-duty deputies from the sheriff’s office to support the Office of Campus Safety. And the Office of Campus Safety has increased its patrol personnel. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has also been asked to increase patrols in Gambier.”
According to President Nugent, after the arrest and his subsequent release, Freeman “confirmed … that he was not in Knox County and had no intention of returning to Knox County and … that he understood Kenyon had issued a “no trespass” injunction and that he intended to abide by that.”
Freeman pled “not guilty” at the Mount Vernon Municipal Court and is awaiting trial. The Knox County Sheriff’s office said there is no new information regarding Freeman’s case at this time. A pre-trial hearing is expected this month. Freeman no longer works at the Village Market and is not permitted on Kenyon College property.
Freeman’s arrest triggered the second college lockdown in two months, following the presence of a person accused of the murder of several Apple Valley residents on campus in November.
As to whether or not Freeman’s threat was legitimate, Nugent said that “some psychologically troubled individuals do act on aggressive and destructive impulses … [but] some individuals voice general threats that they have no intention of carrying out. How can we know which is which? I don’t pretend to have the answer to that.”
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