Bomb threat’ on a bike at OU

This is an article, not a pipe bomb.

When Ohio University Police found a bicycle with a sticker reading “This Bike is a Pipe Bomb” on March 2, officers shut down four buildings and called in a bomb squad from Columbus.

What officials didn’t know at the time was that This Bike is a Pipe Bomb is a Florida-based punk band.

Patrick Hanlin, 28, had left his bike overnight in front of Oasis, an on-campus diner. As he headed to church the next morning, another student told him about the potential bomb threat and he realized the sticker on his bike might have caused panic.

When he tried to explain the sticker, officers arrested him immediately.

“I’m on my way to church and then 15 minutes later, I’m in handcuffs,” Hanlin said.

The same bike he rode from Boston to Seattle to raise money for a Michigan hospice was eventually destroyed as officials searched for a possible threat.

Meanwhile, students in Scott Quadrangle, just yards away from the diner, were panicking.

“It’s really scary when you wake up at 8 a.m. and see a bomb squad outside your dorm,” said Shari Stuerenberg, an OU sophomore who lives in Scott.

After resident advisers were unable to offer any information about the situation, Stuerenberg called her mother to tell her there might be a bomb on campus.

An hour later, the bomb squad and caution tape were cleared and all of the buildings, including Oasis, were re-opened.

At roughly the same time, Hanlin was released and charged with inducing panic after being questioned by police. Rather than give him a felony charge, authorities gave him a lesser misdemeanor charge and a fine.

Within 24 hours, the incident made national and international news.

According to Hanlin, the American Civil Liberties Union contacted him, a blog was created about him and This Bike is a Pipe Bomb fans across the country sent him photos of their identical bicycle stickers.

Hanlin said he was most amused by a Web site selling shirts and other merchandise with such catch phrases as, “Free Patrick Hanlin!” and “Patrick Hanlin is NOT a pipe bomb.”

Although some may find his situation amusing, Hanlin, who studies education counseling and works as a resident assistant in a dorm, was most concerned about the impact the incident would have on his future. The charges would have taken away his right to vote, and he still might have trouble getting a job after he graduates in June.

“I really wanted it to just fade away,” he said.

On March 6, OU officials announced all charges against Hanlin would be dropped.

According to a release, the university decided after further investigation that Hanlin meant no harm.

OU authorities are now planning to reimburse Hanlin for his 7-year-old bike, which is valued between $800 and $1,000, according to

John Burns, OU’s director of legal affairs, said that he planned to discuss the reimbursement with Hanlin today, but that the meeting was canceled. He said he hopes there will be an agreement within a week.

“I don’t want to delay it much longer,” Burns said, adding that once the two parties agree, OU officials will fill out a request form and send Hanlin a check.

Hanlin said he canceled the meeting because he has CPR training for his counseling internship. He plans to call Burns today to schedule another meeting or agree upon a reimbursement amount.

Chris Clavin, president of Plan-It-X Records, which represents This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, said the band members were relieved charges against Hanlin were dropped, but weren’t shocked by the incident itself.

“It’s not a new thing,” he said. “The band and I both think it’s the dumbest thing ever.”

No one would see a bicycle as a potential bomb, Clavin said.

“If you made a bomb, you wouldn’t advertise that fact.”

Lt. David Weekley, BGSU police officer and member of the Toledo Police Department’s Northwest Bomb Squad, disagrees.

He said officials must take every threat seriously.

“We treat everything like it’s real,” he said, adding that a bicycle could easily be filled with explosives and bombs.

Stuerenberg is glad OU officers responded to the sticker.

“I can easily see how the police were concerned, and I’m glad there was concern,” she said.