Armed car thieves force OU community to shelter-in-place and delay classes

Car+crash+scene+at+the+I-75+exit+to+southbound+Joselyn+Road.+Photo+courtesy+of+FOX+2+Detroit

Car crash scene at the I-75 exit to southbound Joselyn Road. Photo courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit

Arianna Heyman, Features Editor

On Monday Nov. 14, 2022, the OU community awoke to a terrifying situation which left everyone shocked and confused for hours. 

As reported by The Oakland Press, in the early hours of the morning, a group of individuals stormed a car dealership in Flint. Gunfire was exchanged between the dealership security guard and the suspects before they fled south in the stolen vehicles. 

A Grand Blanc police officer identified the vehicles on I-475 and pursued the suspects. One of the vehicles crashed at the I-75 exit to southbound Joselyn Road. After the car caught fire, the unnamed suspect died at the scene. 

Around 4:00 a.m. a second vehicle crashed at Walton and Adams Road and the two armed suspects fled on foot. This led to a manhunt, shelter-in-place order from the Oakland University Police Department (OUPD) and a delay of classes. 

OUPD Chief Mark Gordon relayed to the Oakland Press that during the campus search, surveillance video caught the suspects attempting to gain access to multiple buildings before they successfully entered Varner Hall

Shortly after, the suspects were picked up at the Varner entrance by an unidentified silver SUV. 

Gordon told the Oakland Press that recovering evidence from Varner Hall is nearly impossible due to the fact that construction is underway in the area. 

“It’s a very, very dirty area –– not an ideal area to pull fingerprints or footprints,” he stated. 

Junior Nakia Shaw likened the incident to a dark cloud which loomed over the day. 

“Getting the notifications on my phone [and] knowing that I have a lot of friends here and a lot of teachers that I care about that are here very early –– it was very frightening not knowing what was happening. [Or] if [the suspects] would be caught or if anything worse was gonna happen.”

Fortunately, no member of the OU community was harmed during this incident and by 10:00 a.m. –– OU police gave the all clear and campus activities and classes resumed by noon. 

“Had something bad happened, I don’t know what I would have done,” senior Sean Whitaker said. “I’m just glad everyone’s safe and nothing bad happened for the most part other than probably some damages. I’m just thankful that everyone’s okay and that we’re okay as a people.” 

In a statement, President Ora Pescovitz lauded law enforcement and the OU community for their response to the emergency situation. 

“On behalf of university leadership, I want to thank all students, faculty and staff for the patience and cooperation you demonstrated during this morning’s emergency situation on campus. This was a serious public emergency and I am so grateful that we weathered it without incident. I want to also express the great appreciation and pride I have in the outstanding work of the Oakland University Police Department and all of the neighboring law enforcement departments that responded to the situation so quickly and professionally.”

The suspects are still at large and any witnesses who may have more information are encouraged to call OUPD at (248) 370-3331 or Auburn Hills Police Department (248) 370-9460.

OUPD is also encouraging students to register for OU emergency text alerts. To sign up visit oakland.edu/police/emergency-management/emergency-alerts and click on the “Alerts for Students & Employees” link at the bottom of the page.