Woman faces charges in gun incident

Kamariea Forcier

Jennifer Joan May, a former University employee, was charged with four counts of second-degree assault Tuesday in connection with the shot fired in University President Nils Hasselmo’s office June 11.
May was arrested Saturday after admitting to police she was the person who entered Hasselmo’s office with the .38-caliber gun, according to the Hennepin County criminal complaint.
On June 11, May entered Hasselmo’s office and demanded to speak with him. When told she would have to wait to speak with the president, May pulled a gun out of her handbag and started swearing at the office staff. She pointed the gun at several staff members, fired a shot into the ceiling and fled the office.
May became a suspect after Hasselmo’s staff told police she had called the office several times demanding to speak with the president. During the calls, Hasselmo’s staff members said May used profanity similar to that used by the suspect during the incident.
May could face a maximum of seven years in prison, as well as up to $14,000 in fines for each charge of felony assault.
Witnesses picked her driver’s license picture out of a photo lineup, allowing police to obtain a search warrant for the home of May’s mother, where the suspect had been staying. There, they found several garments matching the description of clothing worn by the suspect at the time of the incident.
May, who was a secretary in the chemistry department from 1987 to 1991, filed charges of sexual harassment against her boss, chemistry department Chairman W. Ronald Gentry in May 1991. The charges, filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, were dismissed in August of that year.
Gentry said in a written statement Monday that he and May “had a mutual and consensual romantic relationship” for a few months in 1990 and 1991 while he was separated from his wife. May was married and having trouble with her husband at the time of the relationship, Gentry said.
When their relationship started to “fall apart,” Gentry said, “May began a series of resignations from her position and leaves of absences.”
During that time, May’s supervisors transferred May’s work so she would not be working for Gentry, he said.
Gentry reconciled with his wife in February 1991 and told May of the reunion. May immediately started threatening to file a grievance against Gentry unless she was allowed to resume work for him, he said.
Gentry said May physically assaulted him and damaged University property in his office on March 13, 1991, after which she temporarily transferred to the Institute of Technology dean’s office.
When May’s charges of sexual harassment were dismissed, Gentry said May threatened his life during one of several abusive phone calls.
May resigned from the University in August after a leave of absence. Afterward, she started calling the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the president’s office using threatening, abusive language, Gentry said.
In October 1992, a meeting was called by the affirmative action office to decide how to handle May’s phone calls, Gentry said. He participated in that meeting, after which University Police Detective Larry Anderson sent May a letter informing her that her calls could be considered harassment.
Gentry said Anderson advised him to obtain a restraining order. Gentry applied for and was granted the restraining order in May 1993 and said he has not had contact with her since.
May’s first court appearance is scheduled for this morning in Hennepin County District Court. The county attorney’s office plans to ask the court to set bail at $100,000 and require that May have no contact with her alleged victims or any other University employees, and to stay away from campus.