MARIETTA — The Porsche owner charged in connection with a threatening note left in his vehicle in Marietta has apologized for the ordeal and shared how he said the note made its way onto his dashboard.
Gary Studenic, 70, of east Cobb, faces a charge of reckless conduct after police were called about a note left on the dashboard of his black Porsche Boxster GTS parked in front of the Marietta Daily Journal office on Wednesday morning.
“It has been modified to explode on contact,” the note read. “A nominal fee of $10,000 will be collected at time explosive charges are removed.”
The Marietta Police Department responded to the scene shortly after 10 a.m. and began evacuating nearby buildings and redirecting traffic.
The MDJ reported Wednesday the note had been left in Studenic’s vehicle as part of a prank between him and attorney Richard Calhoun of the law firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun and Rogers located across the street from the newspaper.
Later in the day, attorney Jimmy Berry, who represents Calhoun, said the note his client wrote was no longer in the car. The note that sparked the police response was actually written by Studenic as the next volley in the prank war between the two, Berry said.
Calhoun did not return a request for comment for this story.
But Studenic told the MDJ on Friday afternoon that he’d taken the fall for something he didn’t do. He also provided the MDJ with an emailed two-page apology letter, which begins with “to all whom it may concern.”
“For this to happen to me, it’s unfair. But it is what it is,” Studenic said. “I covered for the attorney ... I told him, I’m not going to blame you, because I don’t blame you.”
In his apology letter, the Studenic said the prank note was in fact penned by his friend. Studenic said the two men have been pulling gags on each other for years.
He told the MDJ the note that inadvertently ended up on the dashboard of the Porsche was a part of Calhoun’s prank from the night before. Studenic said Calhoun had seen his car parked outside his offices Tuesday night and placed the threatening note on his car to watch for his reaction when he returned.
Studenic said his wife saw it first.
“As I was opening the car, she said not to because of a paper on our windshield. As soon as she started reading it out loud to me I grabbed it and started looking for my friend because it didn’t fool me for a second,” he wrote in the apology letter. “As I reached for my phone to call him, while looking for his number, I saw him looking out of his office window, laughing.”
Studenic told the MDJ when he and his wife arrived home that night, his wife placed both the prank note and a note he routinely leaves in the dashboard on his passenger seat. The usual note, which only displays Studenic’s name and phone number, explains that he’s parking in a space with permission from Calhoun. Calhoun’s law firm rents space in the MDJ building on a floor separate from the newspaper’s office.
The following morning as Studenic rushed to a courtroom off Marietta Square, he said he parked in the visitor space at the MDJ offices, grabbed what he thought was his usual note and placed it on the dashboard. What he didn’t realize, he said, was that he’d mistakenly grabbed both papers.
“I don’t even know if I locked my car with my car fob because I took off running, because I was late,” he said.
Once in the courtroom, Studenic said he turned off his phone and was unaware of the events unfolding just blocks away.
When he discovered the many calls and messages on his phone, some left by police, he said he rushed to the scene to explain what had happened and was “shocked” by all the activity.
“What I ran into was a ramped-up, agitated group of officers doing their job,” Studenic’s letter reads. “The enormity of what was taking place was unnerving and upsetting to say the very least.”
Studenic told the MDJ he understands the gravity of the turn of events that led to the evacuation of six Marietta buildings and the deployment of Marietta and Cobb police, a bomb squad and an armored vehicle, among other public safety units.
“I’m not some stupid person who’s walking around that’s unaware of the reality of the world,” he said, adding in his letter that his son was a fireman and EMT for a decade.
“I would not have appreciated his going through such needless stress, and being concerned that he may be injured, as all the policemen on the scene realize the very real risk their jobs ask of them,” he wrote.
Studenic ended his note with an invitation to an “apology and barbecue” for all area police officers to be held at his home in the fall.
Officer Chuck McPhilamy, a spokesman for the Marietta Police Department, declined to comment on the apology, but said the department takes all threats seriously.
“This is 2019, and with the advent of so many different tragedies worldwide that we see in the news, something like this isn’t what I would consider to be a sensitive joke,” he said on the morning of the incident.
Paul McNally, an accountant who works out of an office at Ignite HQ, a business incubator space next door to the MDJ offices, was evacuated Wednesday morning. He said during the initial evacuation, everyone was terrified. But when the news broke that the note had been part of a prank, the fear turned to anger.
“It kind of became mind-blowing that it was these older gentlemen that were involved in something like this,” he said. “We were all upset that we all lost time (and) the police lost time. It was kind of infuriating.”
McNally said there’s no excuse for that kind of joke, but if Studenic’s explanation is true, he shouldn’t be the only one held responsible.
“But I do think an apology at this point is too late,” he said.