Norman Police officer had a chance encounter with OU bomber

Friday, October 7th 2005, 5:56 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Norman police confirm that an off-duty officer had a chance encounter with Joel Hinrichs III two days before Hinrichs apparently killed himself in an explosion near the University of Oklahoma football stadium.

But police said Thursday that a conversation the officer overheard at the store doesn't appear to have any connection with the Saturday explosion.

Lieutenant JD Younger says Hinrichs went to Ellison Feed and Seed last Thursday and asked to buy ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the same type used in the Oklahoma City bombing. The store no longer carries the fertilizer.

His actions raised the suspicions of an off-duty officer who happened to be in the store. Younger says the officer wrote down Hinrichs' license tag number and called the police department to check his identity.

Younger says the officer returned to duty Thursday evening and was able to identify Hinrichs and notified the bomb squad. Younger says the officer was to give a written report on Monday, but Hinrichs died on Saturday. He says there's no information that the incidents are connected.

Meanwhile, University of Oklahoma officials say the school didn't sell Joel Hinrichs a football ticket to the game between OU and Kansas State.

OU spokeswoman Catherine Bishop said a review of ticket records determined that Hinrichs didn't buy a football ticket from any university outlet.

Officials say they haven't heard anything to indicate Hinrichs tried to buy a ticket from one of the fans selling tickets outside the stadium, nor have FBI agents found anything on video surveillance tapes to indicate Hinrichs tried to enter the stadium.

Thursday night OU President David Boren released a letter to OU students, faculty and staff that commended most of the media and Oklahomans for responding responsibly to the incident. But Boren added that there have been others who haven't done so.

Muslim students said Thursday that they feared for their safety and the university stepped in to protect them as rumors spread of a terrorist plot behind the explosion.

Houda Elyazgi of the Muslim Student Association says a lot of Muslim students are taking precautions and are staying at home.