C/O Futures Terrorism Research Note Series
Zachary Z. Horsington
17 November 2023
At approximately 7:30 p.m. CDT, 1 Oct 2005, Joel “Joe” Henry Hinrichs III, aged 21 detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) about 150 yards west of the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Memorial Gaylord Stadium (MGS), alone on a park bench, killing only himself. Hinrichs was a junior mechanical engineering student at OU with significant previous experience handling both, low and high explosives. He created his device using materials bought from everyday supply/hardware stores, possibly over a matter of days. Authorities found no evidence to suggest that Hinrichs was motivated by a social or political terrorist agenda. Despite over 84,000 people present in MGS, many of whom were about to exit for half-time, it is more significant to consider the National Merit Scholar presentation which had occurred just prior to the football game, and the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) “Hamburger Feed” event planned to occur that day as possible motives. Hinrichs was a National Merit Scholar who had lost a portion of his scholarship funding due to waning grades, which were affected by depression; and he was a lonely individual who had recently attempted to contact a female student to confirm his attendance at the SWE event, only to be ghosted and ignored by her. While not explicitly a terrorist incident, the various situational and psychological factors that drove Hinrichs to suicide should be carefully considered from an indications & warning (I&W) perspective when analyzingincel, right-wing, and lone-actor terrorism today.