Sketch of woman who shot gun in Hasselmo’s office released

Kamariea Forcier

University Police released a sketch Thursday of the woman who shot a bullet into the ceiling of University President Nils Hasselmo’s office Tuesday morning.
University Police detectives are still searching for the unidentified woman who fired what police believe to be a .38-caliber revolver into the air inside the president’s outer office. She shot the gun after being told she would have to wait to meet with the president. No one was injured.
After firing the gun, the woman fled from Hasselmo’s office, possibly running down the stairwell next to the office, University Police said.
Police will continue guarding Hasselmo’s office until further notice. Hasselmo’s staff returned to work Wednesday after they were allowed to leave Tuesday following the incident.
The University Employee Assistance Program offered counseling to the staff immediately after the incident.
David W. Johnson, director of the Employee Assistance program, said the staff seems to be “handling it pretty well.” But he added, “It really changes the whole environment.
“After, nothing’s the same. There’s always some kind of change in sense of safety, sense of openness. All these things are damaged by this type of experience.”
Neither receptionist Pam Cook nor Karen Benson, executive assistant to Hasselmo, would comment on the incident; both were in the outer office at the time of the incident.
Detectives are investigating several leads but are not close to arresting anyone at this time, said Sgt. Joe May of University Police.
St. Paul police detained a woman Tuesday for questioning at the University Police station. She was released later that day and is no longer a suspect.
Tips have come from as far away as Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. May said other Universities have “like concerns” when it comes to people who could threaten university officials.
Chief of University Police Joy Rikala said she contacted other Big Ten schools via a computer network with hopes of uncovering a motive for the incident. No motive has yet been determined.
Rikala said the composite has helped police narrow their search by defining the woman’s facial structure and sending out a sketch.
“From that, we’re now able to focus in on some of our suspects and pull actual photographs of them to show to witnesses,” she said.
Rikala said the recovered bullet is “the only physical evidence we have.” Police searched for clothing the suspect might have been wearing, hoping to figure out how the suspect got away.