Uptown businesses benefit from OU closure, class cancellations

Classes at Ohio University were canceled Wednesday because of police concern about a gunman on the loose. Some students chose to drink at Red Brick Tavern, 14 N. Court St., where “Blue Fugitive Shots” were served. (Ramon Luis Nieves | For The Post)

Although Ohio University students went to town with hashtags like #FugitiveFest and #GundayFunday, Wednesday was not a party for local law enforcement officials. 

At about 9:20 a.m. an armed robbery took place in the parking lot of the Station Street Apartments. The suspect fled in the direction of OU’s West Campus, said Athens City Police Chief Tom Pyle.

The suspect –– wielding a semi-automatic handgun –– was described as a 6’1” or 6’2” African-American male in his early 30s, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to OU’s emergency page. 

By 11:37 a.m. APD referred the case to its investigative unit, Pyle said, adding that officers on patrol were not “actively seeking the suspect.”

OUPD had all of its officers on campus in the afternoon to look for the suspect, said an OUPD dispatcher. 

No further updates from APD or OUPD were received as of Wednesday night.
Though multiple alleged sightings of the suspect were reported during the afternoon, local businesses were not deterred from remaining open.

Many Uptown business owners decided to remain open despite the threat, said Claire Cushing, manager at Brenen’s Coffee Café.

“Our owner said he talked to most of the businesses uptown and the city didn’t contact them,” she said. “If it were a real threat they would have contacted the businesses, so we decided to stay open.”

Other businesses decided to close their doors before dark –– including Chipotle and Court Street Coffee.

“When students got released we were pretty busy but then everyone cleared the streets,” said Debbie Fulks, owner of Court Street Coffee. “It’s been very slow ever since so we decided to close early unless the fugitive is apprehended.”  
OU students didn’t appear to share Fulks’s safety concerns, as many flooded the bars once classes were cancelled.

The Pub saw its busiest Wednesday of the school year, said bartender Mallory Fetchu, a senior studying Spanish and marketing.

“People didn’t have class so they came here to drink,” she said. “Its kind of bad that it has to end up like this for us to get busy, but business is business.”

Business was booming at Lucky’s Sports Tavern too, said bartender Tyler Miller, a senior studying finance.

“I wish more people would do things like this every day,” Miller said. “As long as they don’t come to class and disrupt things, they can rob whoever they want.”

Not all students were at ease, though.

Jacob Radabaugh, a junior studying sociology and criminology who lives at the Station Street Apartments, said he doesn’t feel as safe as he did before the robbery. 

“Before I thought it was safe over here, but now I have a different outlook on it,” Radabaugh said. “I mean things happen, but not that close to home.”



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