10-5-05 - Confident that a thorough security plan for the Cotton Bowl was developed before a deadly explosion outside the University of Oklahoma's football stadium last week, authorities said no drastic new safeguards will be made for Saturday's game between Texas and Oklahoma.
But authorities warned that security personnel around the Cotton Bowl will be more alert in response to the blast, which investigators say was caused when explosives attached to a student's body detonated within 100 yards of where more than 80,000 fans were gathered inside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
"That's one of things we drilled into the heads of our officers," said Dallas Deputy Chief Jesse Reyes. "To be vigilant about suspicious-looking persons or suspicious-looking vehicles or anything of that sort."
Joel Henry Hinrichs III, 21, died Saturday when the device attached to his body exploded about while he sat on a bench outside George Lynn Cross Hall on the campus in Norman, Okla., officials said. The blast could be heard inside the stadium, where Oklahoma was playing Kansas State.
The operator of a feed and seed store in Norman says Hinrichs tried to buy ammonium nitrate three days before the blast.
Dustin Ellison of Ellison Feed and Seed says Hinrichs acted strangely and was wearing a vest with what appeared to be wires in it when he asked for ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Ammonium nitrate was used by Timothy McVeigh to build the bomb he used in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Ellison says he decided he wouldn't sell Hinrichs anything and says the store quit selling the fertilizer in April because of new federal requirements for extra paperwork.
The FBI declined comment on Ellison's statements but issued a
statement saying they've found no connection between Hinrichs and
any terrorist organization.
University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Tuesday that authorities continue to believe that Hinrichs did not try to get into the stadium and that he acted alone.
Reyes said Dallas police have been talking with FBI investigators to learn more about the explosion, so that officers patrolling the game can watch for similar signs or evidence Saturday. Officials said the day of the Texas-Oklahoma game draws about 250,000 fans and visitors to the State Fair of Texas, which takes place outside the Cotton Bowl and serves as the backdrop to the rivalry.
"The more information we have regarding the incident the better we are able to prepare," said Reyes, who oversees security for the fair.
Reyes said canvassing the stadium with bomb-sniffing dogs and explosives experts has been a routine part of security for the game. Visual surveillance _ from cameras to officers stationed on elevated platforms _ was also increased throughout the fair this year, though Reyes said he couldn't reveal specifics because of security concerns.
Fans attending the game are screened using an electronic hand wand when entering Fair Park and again before entering the Cotton Bowl. Bags are subject to searches at both entrances.
Fair organizers contract a private security firm to take tickets and screen fans at the entrances. Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding said no new security measures will be taken in response to the blast since security was already dramatically heightened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"In light of the recent incident, it makes us more aware that the precautions we put in place are valid," Gooding said.
At the University of Oklahoma, Boren said security for future home games will be tightened. He said security personnel will more thoroughly search bags fans bring to the stadium, and for the rest of the season the school will suspend a policy that allows spectators to return after leaving at halftime.
Additional officers, both uniform and undercover, also will be scattered throughout the stadium.
Cameras are positioned at locations throughout the stadium and on the university's campus, but Boren said none of them captured the explosion.