MARIETTA — What apparently began as a friendly prank ended with police evacuating six buildings, shutting down three roads, deploying a bomb-detecting robot and arresting a 70-year-old east Cobb man in front of the MDJ’s Marietta offices Wednesday.

Gary Studenic, 70, of east Cobb, faces a charge of reckless conduct after police were called about a threatening note left on the dash of a black Porsche parked in front of the Marietta Daily Journal office building.

Studenic, Gary.jpg

Gary Studenic

“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 Cobb County Police Department’s bomb squad also responded.

A separate note in the Porsche next to the threatening one had two names on it, that of Studenic, the car’s owner, and that of attorney Richard Calhoun of the law firm Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun and Rogers located across the street from the newspaper.

Speaking to the MDJ by phone as events unfolded, Calhoun said he believed he had penned the note.


Richard Calhoun

“That car belongs to a friend of mine who parked in a lot across the street,” he said. “I put that thing on there yesterday afternoon when he was coming back from the courthouse and we both had a good laugh. I didn’t know he had put it back on there and moved the car, but anyway, there’s nothing to it.”

“That was a joke from yesterday afternoon, all over and done,” he added. “I don’t know why they’re making a big deal.”

But 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.

Lawyer Jimmy Berry Mug.JPG

Jimmy Berry 

“Richard and the person who ended up getting charged are neighbors, and they’re always pulling pranks on each other,” Berry said. “(Studenic) had parked in the law office parking lot, and he had stuck a little note on the car that Richard Calhoun said it was OK to park there. A couple people at the firm said, ‘Richard, we don’t have enough parking places here, so the guy needs to park somewhere else.’”

Calhoun wrote a note along the lines of “Don’t park here or your car will explode,” then went back inside to take photos of Studenic’s reaction upon returning to his vehicle, Berry said.

That was Tuesday afternoon.

Berry said Studenic then printed out his own sign and parked in the MDJ lot Wednesday, apparently mistakenly believing it was part of the law firm’s lot.

“He put a note on there that said this car is wired, if you tow it, it will blow up, kind of as a response to Richard, trying to be funny,” Berry said.

Berry said Calhoun expressed regret that the joke ended up requiring police officers from multiple jurisdictions to respond.

“Richard is incredibly sorry that this took the turn that it did,” Berry said. “They had no intention of that. It was intended to be a joke between two neighbors and friends. … I hope people don’t blow it out of proportion because I think the other fellow did it in response as a joke between neighbors and friends. Unfortunately, at this date and time, you can’t joke about much of anything.”

Officer Chuck McPhilamy, spokesman for the Marietta Police Department, said officers do not see the humor.

“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.

In addition to interviewing Calhoun and Studenic, police searched the car and found no explosives, though they did collect a Glock 43 handgun.

By shortly after 11:15 a.m., the bomb squad had finished its investigation and officers gave the all-clear for evacuated occupants to go back into their buildings.

McPhilamy initially told the MDJ the vehicle would be impounded, but later said because the owner cooperated with police and allowed access to the car, authorities removed evidence and released the vehicle to the owner.

Officers brought Studenic back to MPD headquarters, interviewed him and charged him with misdemeanor reckless conduct. He was booked into the Cobb County Adult Detention Center with a $250 bond.


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(4) comments

Elaine Rondeau

We are survivors of a victim of homicide, activists for the past 25 years, supporting victims of crime all over the United States. The egregious, irresponsible act by Attorney Richard Calhoun of putting a bomb scare note as a joke is an example of his desensitization and ignorance of the multiple acts of violence in this nation today.

Attorney Richard Calhoun should be held accountable, arrested, indicted and tried in a court of law for this egregious act, which has caused great anxiety for citizens as well as police, caused undue stress upon law enforcement and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars for the i vestigation!

Dan Barnett

I’m not sure you read the whole article... it says he was not responsible. God bless you for your service to helping victims of crime but lashing out in judgement without knowing the whole story is also part of a greater systemic problem. The people who lashed out at the kids in DC caused real harm with their words, and I caution you to tread lightly in a time when internet bullying and passive aggressive remarks cause true harm. Let’s let God take this one and see where the chips fall Elaine.

Johanna Williams

@Elaine Rondeau

"Jumping to conclusions and judgements, before all the facts are known"

Anyone researching the meaning of the aforementioned quote need go no further than your unproven statements made here.

David Hofer

I think Elaine's comment was right on. I am aggrieved that a later claimed something in the article that was never said. The article said that Attorney Richard Calhoun was not held responsible. That does not mean that Calhoun would not in the future be held responsible. I don't understand why Mr. Calhoun has not been arrested and indicted. Mr. Berry, Calhoun's lawyer did admit his client had produced the first bomb threat. I demand that Chief McPhilamy have Mr. Calhoun arrested for his conduct in planting the first bomb threat note. As to internet bullying, I do not think that such caution belongs to a man who first planted a bomb threat. I think it very dishonest to call a notice for law enforcement passive-aggressive or bullying. How wonderful that this person paints a seeker of justice as the bad guy! Elaine and I did not threaten people with a bomb, and you want to call this bullying? What's the matter with you?!

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