The Ohio State University community awoke the morning of Oct. 11 to the news that Ohio State University student Chase Meola had been killed in an early morning shooting near campus.
Meola, a fifth-year senior in marketing from Mahwah, N.J., was shot outside a party near the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on East 14th and Indianola avenues, according to authorities.
Columbus police said suspect 18-year-old Kinte Mitchell Jr., had tried to force his way into a house party with others and were asked to leave when an altercation ensued outside. When authorities arrived, Meola was found in the parking area of the house and was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Mitchell has been charged with murder. Mitchell isn’t a student at OSU and has been indicted in three individual felony charge cases since turning 18. He entered a guilty plea in July to a single count of second-degree felony burglary in two of the cases, where he faced a possible sentencing of two to eight years in prison and orders for restitution and potential fines. He also entered not guilty pleas to charges of second-degree felony burglary and first-degree misdemeanor receiving stolen property in a pending third case, the Dispatch reported.
Mitchell’s bond was posted at $185,000 Oct. 8, and he was released from prison following the bond posting, days before the shooting near campus.
Now back in jail for murder, Mitchell was scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Oct. 13, but officials said he refused to leave his jail cell for the proceeding, the Dispatch said. His sentencing for his other charges is scheduled for Oct. 22.
A candlelit vigil was held for Meola at the school’s Oval Oct. 11, where more than 300 people remembered the person who made them laugh and find the beauty in life, according to The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper.
OSU sent an email Oct. 13 addressing rumors about Meola’s death, concerning retaliatory gang violence and the campus area’s safety.
“… Neither The Ohio State University Police Division nor Columbus Police has received any credible or substantiated reports of retaliatory gang activity in our student neighborhoods,” said the letter by Monica Moll, director of OSU’s Department of Public Safety. “Additionally, a video circulating on social media of a separate shooting was not recorded in the University District. This video is unrelated to Sunday’s crime.”
Moll said the OSUPD is continuing coordination with Columbus Police to increase patrols and add special duty officers in surrounding campus areas to strengthen safety.
OSU President Kristina M. Johnson sent a letter to the university’s community Oct. 15 detailing that a University Task Force on Community Safety and Well-Being will be formed in response to Meola’s death and to help improve safety around the campus area.
The task force will review on-campus and off-campus student neighborhoods’ safety issues, and will “identify, implement and advocate for additional approaches that address violence, crime, and high-risk activities and behaviors,” Johnson said in the letter.
Melissa Shivers, vice president of the Office of Student Life, and Jay Kasey, senior vice president of the Office of Administration and Planning, will co-chair the task force. Members also include Ohio State students, faculty and staff, parents, OSUPD and the Columbus Division of Police law enforcement professionals, public health professionals, representatives of neighborhoods in the University District, Ohio State Student Legal Services, and representatives from Columbus City Council and the mayor’s office.
The task force will report its initial findings before the Thanksgiving break in November. The members will continue to work throughout the year and remain a standing task force of the university, the letter said.
“Our task force’s charge is clear: Improve existing systems and find new and creative ways to better ensure the safety and well-being of our Ohio State community members,” Johnson said in the letter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.