Southern Illinois College Student Charged for Making Virginia Tech-Style Threat

He seemed in many ways a typical college student -- president of his fraternity at Southern Illinois University, an aspiring rapper who wrote about finding a girlfriend who could cook. His said his favorite book was the Bible.

But Olutosin Oduwole also had not-so-typical interests, like buying and selling guns on the Internet. He allegedly sold a fully automatic M-16 assault rifle he never owned. And a court document says he was seen walking around campus wearing a bullet-resistant vest in May.

Then came the news this week: Police said they found a handwritten note inside his car threatening a "murderous rampage" similar to the one at Virginia Tech that left 32 people and the gunman dead.

On Wednesday -- Oduwole's 22nd birthday -- he pleaded not guilty to making a terrorist threat, a felony. He was being held Thursday on $1.1 million bail.

While Oduwole's friends and others say the purchase of weapons and his sometimes violent rap lyrics add up to a misunderstanding, police suspect he had violence on his mind.

"The note was just one piece of the puzzle," said Otis Steward, an investigator who said Oduwole's allegedly fraudulent sale of a gun he never owned and his recent thirst for more firepower raised the level of police concern.

At the time of Oduwole's arrest, federal authorities had been investigating a gun dealer's concerns that Oduwole seemed overly eager to receive guns he had purchased online.

That alleged plot was revealed, authorities say, on a piece of paper found inside Oduwole's car July 20. Rap lyrics were scrawled on one side of the sheet and part of the flipside, where authorities found the words that troubled them.

The note, police say, demanded payment to a PayPal account, threatening, "if this account doesn't reach $50,000 in the next seven days then a murderous rampage similar to the VT shooting will occur at another highly populated university. THIS IS NO JOKE."

The writer suggested the shooting would target a "prestigious" university, but that word was crossed out. There was no direct mention of the 13,500-student Southern Illinois University in this city about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis.

At Oduwole's university apartment, police said they discovered a loaded gun and, according to a search warrant, a photograph of Oduwole flashing gang signs.

Oduwole was legally entitled to purchase the firearms, but federal authorities, with help from the dealer, intercepted the weapons.

The arrest was an "absolute misunderstanding," said Steve Holman, a 24-year-old Southern Illinois University senior who identified himself as Oduwole's friend.

John Cernkovich, who until Wednesday was Oduwole's attorney in the fraud and theft case, said his client was a victim of circumstances.

"I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I understand that in this environment -- post Sept. 11 -- authorities don't take any chances," he said.