Alleged OU Assaulter Indicted By Athens Co. Grand Jury

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A former OU student and hockey player has been indicted in connection with the assault of an employee of Bird Arena.

An Athens County grand jury indicted James D. Howard, of Canfield, on felony charges of burglary, aggravated burglary, tampering with records and having weapons while under disability, according to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.

James D. Howard, of Canfield, was charged with burglary and having weapons while under disability, both felony offenses, by Ohio University police, according to a news release. He is now also charged with burglary, according to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail database.

He is accused of assaulting an employee of Bird Arena, then travelling to Logan to purchase a firearm and ammunition.

Police have interviewed Howard about the incident, but they say a motive hasn’t been established.

Howard reportedly withdrew from classes at OU before going to the arena, and was a former member of the OU Hockey Team. Powers told WOUB in an interview on Wednesday that it is believed Howard was looking for a staff member, when he entered the arena shortly before noon on Monday, but the employee that was assaulted was not that person.

Police received information from the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office that Howard had attempted to buy a gun.

“A gun shop in Logan refused to sell him a gun, but he was able to buy a rifle from a store in Athens,” Powers said in his most recent statement. “He then returned to Logan, where he was arrested on our warrants by the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office.”

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office said they received a phone call from a local gun store in Logan, according to a news release posted to their Facebook.

“The owner advised that a male came in to purchase a firearm and was making statements that made the owner question his mental stability and the reason for purchasing the firearm,” the release stated.

Howard allegedly purchased the firearm he was found to be in possession of by making a “false statement on a background check form,” the prosecutor’s office stated in a news release.

Howard’s bond is currently $125,000, and he is banned from Ohio University’s campus as a condition of his bond.

“The Division of Student Affairs has also served Howard with an administrative ban from campus,” the release from Powers stated.

Howard’s arraignment is scheduled for April 6.