Looking Back 9/19/18

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Three bombs set by a former Oakland University student went off on Oakland’s campus on January 10, 1990, prompting a panic from students and faculty.

Jerry Guglielmello, former student from the fall of 1989, and Christian Cyrulewski planted bombs in several different areas around campus to alleged create a diversion to rob the cashier’s office on campus.

The first bomb went off in Kresge Library at 5:15pm. According to eyewitnesses when the bomb went off, there was a wall of fire following the explosion, causing damage to some of the journals held in the library.

“I was sitting in my chair; it went off, I yelled ‘fire, fire,’ then we (he and OU student Jim Grzech) got the fire extinguishers,” Sean Chamberlain, a then-junior at OU, said.

The second bomb went off in the parking lot near the library, with a third going off in the parking lot near North Foundation Hall. These only caused minor damage to two cars in the respective parking lots. Thankfully with all three pipe bombs, no one was injured from the explosions
Classes weren’t cancelled to the dismay and outrage of students, but for good reason.

“We didn’t want to cancel classes and send students into the parking lots because that is where the last bomb had just gone off,” David Rodwell, the then vice president of External Affairs, said. Campus closed the day after the bombings so that police could make sure the university was safe for students.

Guglielmello was apprehended at midnight the next day for an unrelated burglary that happened on October 30, 1989 at Mt. Holly Ski Resort. While at Guglielmello’s apartment, police found gunpowder and metal pipes that were similar to what was used in the pipe bombs that were set off at OU.

Few people could believe that Guglielmello was capable of doing such a thing.

“Nothing he did in class would lead me to believe he would do anything like this,” Anne Becker, a Rhetoric special lecturer, said.

“He seemed happy at Oakland.”

After going to Guglielmello’s apartment, police began to search for Christian Cyrulewski, Guglielmello’s roommate, for his possible involvement in the bombings.

Cyrulewski tried to evade police after his name and appearance were published by painting his car black and shaving his moustache. In order to drop the federal fugitive warrant against him, Cyrulewski eventually turned himself in the Sunday following the bombing.

A little over two weeks later, a bomb threat was called into the Oakland Center, prompting an evacuation. This threat was either unrelated or inspired by the original bombings earlier in the month, as both suspects for the first bombings were in custody. Police searched the building and, while nothing was found, it didn’t help the already on-edge population of OU.

Everything came to a conclusion in September, 1990, when Guglielmello was sentenced to twenty-seven months in federal prison for the bombings. Cyrulewski was also sentenced to twenty-seven months, but in a different location, so the two remained separated. The sentence carried no parole and would not be shortened.