Miami students feel safe despite shooting, violent clown rumors

Two Miami University students were shot at this house on North Campus Avenue in Oxford on Tuesday night, Oct. 4. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Two Miami University students were shot at this house on North Campus Avenue in Oxford on Tuesday night, Oct. 4. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Despite a near-campus shooting Tuesday night that injured two students — and hoaxes involving terrorizing clowns — many Miami University students said upgrades in the school's security alert systems have made them feel safer on and near campus.

Miami made use of its alert system Tuesday evening when two students were shot inside a house in the 200 block of North Campus Avenue — about three blocks from the Oxford campus.

Miami University spokeswoman Claire Wagner said, “we used the university’s emergency notification system throughout the evening to alert students, staff and faculty that Oxford police were investigating an incident, later confirmed as a shooting, and to avoid the area. Later we sent a crime alert with more details.”

Ryan Minik, a junior, said Miami has improved its campus security and alerts since he was a freshman.

Miami used alerts three years ago, Minik said, but “we get more alerts now than we did back then.”

“Instead of getting just a text message … saying stay away from some place, we get one when there is an issue, then we get one when it’s on-going (issue) and then we’ll get one when it’s resolved too,” he said.

“It makes me feel safer on campus,” Minik said.

Miami is “definitely” good at keeping students informed of any possible dangers on or off campus, said Krista Mersino, a junior at the Oxford campus.

“They keep us updated on whatever goes on,” said Mersino, who walks to classes from the same neighborhood where Tuesday’s shooting occurred.

“There was a suspicious backpack a couple of weeks ago … and it turned out to be nothing but they alerted us about that,” she said.

National reports of a jump in school violence threats toward colleges and K-12 schools have become a staple of this new school year.

Almost daily, some school somewhere in America is reporting a threat of some sort. The latest bizarre twist is the rumors of people dressed in clown outfits threatening violence on or near school grounds, including most recently at Miami’s main Oxford campus. The university police investigated tips Monday night and confirmed none were true.

Scott Sutton, a student who lives across the street from the house where Tuesday’s shooting occurred, told the Journal-News that he was shocked to see police tape and “a lot of cops” outside the home as he was returning home from a late class.

“It was just complete mayhem,” he said. “Everyone was out watching.”

Sutton said he received an email on his phone during class that someone was injured and there was an alert to stay away from the area.

Sutton, who has lived in Oxford for three years, said the campus is “generally very safe,” but the shooting and earlier rumors about dangerous clowns around campus did have some people on edge.

The two shooting suspects are still being sought by police. One of the two Miami student victims remained hospitalized Wednesday evening.

Oxford police say a prior arranged sale of a vehicle apparently led to the shooting Tuesday night of Volodymyr Kovalenko, 23, of Beachwood, Ohio, and Jared Goldhamer, 20, of the house where the shooting occurred. Both were shot in the leg, according to the police report.

Officers were told that two male suspects came to the house in the 200 block of North Campus Avenue to complete a sale of a vehicle. During that transaction one suspect pulled out a firearm and fired three rounds at the victims.

Kovalenko and Goldhamer told police what happened in the report obtained by this news outlet.

Kovalenko said he contacted a person through Craig’sList to buy a car for $4,000. The alleged seller and another man drove the vehicle from Cleveland and they met at the Oxford residence, according to the report.

One of the men, a black male, became “jittery and paranoid” when given the cash, Kovalenko told police.

“The (black male) pulled out a gun and shot Jared Goldhamer, who was sitting on the couch in the leg,” according to the police report.

Kovalenko said after Goldhamer was shot, he fought the shooter for the weapon and the gun went off, hitting him in the leg. Kovalenko said the gun dropped to the floor and was kicked under the couch. That’s when the two suspects grabbed the cash and fled the scene.

Goldhamer told police he was sitting on the couch while Kovalenko and the two suspects were talking about the car. One of the suspects pulled out a gun and fired it into his leg, Goldhamer told police.

According to the police report, Goldhamer saw Kovalenko fighting with the suspect and the gun went off hitting Kovalenko in the leg.

Two other housemates heard the shots and ran downstairs. They told police that they saw the suspect only briefly.

The first suspect is described at a white male with a dark complexion, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.

The second suspect is described as a black male with dreadlocks, approximately 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds.

A preliminary investigation indicates this was not a random act and that the victims were specifically targeted, police said.

Kovalenko is a junior majoring in biochemistry and Russian, and Goldhamer is also a junior majoring in finance, according to Wagner.

Anyone with information about the crime can call Oxford police Detective Sgt. David King at 513-524-5240.

Staff Writer Nick Graham contributed to this report.

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