Former Staff Member Takes His Own Life at Ohio Wexner Art Center Shooting

No one else was hurt, but some artworks were damaged.

The shooting took place at Ohio State University's Wexner Art Center. Photo: OSU

A former capmus security officer at Ohio State University (OSU) shot and killed himself at the University’s Wexner Center for the Arts, in Columbus, on Sunday morning.

Ohio State police responded to a 911 call from a gallery security guard who said shots were fired in the upper level of the gallery.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that police safely evacuated two visitors and a few staff members. No one else was hurt.

The shooter reportedly vandalized artwork before taking his own life. In the a 911 call released by Columbus police, a gallery security guard is heard saying, “He’s in the gallery, marking up the art and shooting.”

A former campus security officer vandalized artworks and committed suicide before police arrived at the scene. Photo: Rick Rouan via The Columbus Dispatch

A former campus security officer vandalized artworks and died by suicide inside the museum before police arrived at the scene.
Photo: Rick Rouan via The Columbus Dispatch

The guard told Ohio State University police, “We need someone over here quickly. He’s coming to the control center now. He’s right outside our control center, top of the stairs.” After five minutes the incident was over. “Sir, the shooter’s dead,” the caller said. “He shot himself in the head.”

Wexner Center officials declined to say which artworks were damaged or to what extent. Gallery staff are still evaluating the severity of the damage and discussing the incident with lenders.

In a statement, OSU spokesperson Chris Davey revealed the damaged works were part of the gallery’s current exhibition “After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists,” which features artists influenced by the Spanish master and includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns.

The gallery was hosting an exhibition on artists influenced by Picasso, but didn't reveal which works were damaged. Photo: Columbus Monthly

The gallery was hosting an exhibition on artists influenced by Picasso, but didn’t reveal which works were damaged.
Photo: Columbus Monthly

“They believe very strongly, as a matter of obligation and propriety, that they should not release any of the particulars about the artworks until a very thorough assessment has been done,” Davey said.

On Monday, police identified the man who shot himself as Dean D. Sturgis, a 63-year-old former campus security officer who resigned in 2009 to avoid being fired. His last assignment on the job had been at the Wexner Center.

The museum will remain closed until further notice.


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