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Man who took his own life at the Wexner Center identified

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Columbus Police and paramedics park outside the Wexner Center of the Arts on Nov. 29. Credit: Robert Scarpinito | Copy Chief

Columbus Police and paramedics park outside the Wexner Center of the Arts on Nov. 29. Credit: Robert Scarpinito | Copy Chief

A former Ohio State employee took his own life Sunday morning at the Wexner Center for the Arts after vandalizing artwork in the gallery area.

University Police and the Columbus Division of Police responded at 11:20 a.m. to shots fired in the gallery of the Wexner Center. The report was made by OSU public safety personnel at the scene.

Officers arrived to discover the man already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The deceased was identified as Dean Sturgis, 63, a former Department of Public Safety security officer, OSU Director of Public Safety Vernon Baisden said early Monday afternoon in an emailed statement. Sturgis resigned in expectation of being terminated in 2009.

The incident which occurred Sunday at the Wexner Center for the Arts was shocking and traumatic for all involved and included the loss of one life,” Baisden said in the statement.

No other individuals were injured during the incident, University Police Acting Chief Craig Stone said from outside the Wexner at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

OSU Emergency Management tweeted earlier that the university deemed there to be no ongoing threat to the OSU community, and no public safety alert was issued by University Police.

A section of North High Street in front of the Wexner Center, between East 16th and East 18th avenues, was cordoned off by Columbus police cruisers for several hours after the incident. Columbus Fire paramedics and SWAT joined security personnel on scene, with security vehicles lining High Street and the on-campus area between the Wexner Center and Arps Hall.

Security officers removed a small group of building occupants and two patrons while officers worked to ensure the situation was contained, according to a university statement.

The man’s motivation to vandalize artwork before killing himself as well as the manner and extent of damage to galleries has yet to be disclosed by the university.

The Wexner Center was showcasing the “After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists” exhibition, which featured selected works of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s peers, including art by Brassaï and Andy Warhol.

In 2010, another employee exercised violence after finding out he was to be fired, when an OSU custodian shot and killed a co-worker in the Maintenance Building.

The Wexner Center will continue to be closed until further notice, as the investigation continues and vandalized artwork is repaired, Stone said.

Correction – December 2, 2015: A previous version of this article did not fully identify University Police Acting Chief Craig Stone on first reference. This information has been added. 

2 comments

  1. Why was Sturgis going to be terminated in 2009?

  2. I hope he didn’t vandalize any Picasso work ! Why was the name of the vandalizer released but not the name of the artwork?

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