On Jan. 29, I received a text from a friend of mine who attends the University of Minnesota. “So, at the Graduate Hotel across from campus there’s this guy with two women held hostage in his room right now, and classes didn’t get cancelled!”
The incident began early Monday morning when Minneapolis Police delivered Rashad Bowman, age 43, with a warrant from Arizona, where he was wanted for printing illegal checks. Police used tear gas, flashbangs and a battering ram in order to arrest Bowman. He is now awaiting trial for charges of kidnapping, terroristic threats and arson. Initial reports called the event a “hostage situation.” According to a University of Minnesota spokesperson; the police were not using the term “hostage.”
As more information became available, it turned out that there was only one 40-year-old woman who was in the room with Bowman. She left the room safely on Monday night. According to the “Minnesota Daily,” students and faculty received a safety notice via text which read:
“SAFE-U Alert — Public Safety Incident at Graduate Hotel East Bank roads near Graduate Hotel are closed due to public safety situation in hotel. Rec and Wellness Center closed & Washington Avenue Ramp inaccessible to vehicles. Please avoid these areas. Check umn.edu for updates.”
The streets around the hotel as well as the University’s recreation center and the nearby Washington Ave. parking ramp were closed. The standoff between police and Bowman lasted 38 hours and ended without violence. His motives were unclear. His Facebook posts revealed that he was distressed about missing his daughter, a University of Wisconsin–River Falls student who, according to the “Washington Post,” had committed suicide in 2014. The Facebook posts also revealed that Bowman was angry about losing his cat Scarlett, a serval — these are wild cats native to Africa which can also live in domesticity.
The Graduate Hotel is located in Stadium Village, one of the hubs of the University of Minnesota’s campus. Aside from the mentioned closures, business in the area continued as usual.
Augsburg student Rose Theis works in the area.
“Nothing really changed aside from a few streets closing,” she said.
At the time of the incident, there was already heightened police presence because of the Super Bowl, and the Minneapolis Police Department quickly deemed the Graduate Hotel situation under control. Still, this event added more tension to last week’s increased military presence.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 9, 2018, Edition of The Echo.