St. John’s Student Brandishing Gun Arrested

Published: September 27, 2007

NEW YORK – Omeash Hiraman, 22, a freshman at St. John’s University in Queens, was arrested Sept. 26 after walking onto campus wearing a Fred Flintstone mask and carrying a black plastic bag with a .50-caliber rifle’s barrel sticking out.

Authorities locked down the campus for three hours while scanning for a possible second gunman, said police. They later determined there was no second gunman.

A campus security guard approached the student and reached for the weapon, police said. A struggle ensued, and then another student stepped in and assisted in subduing Hiraman. The student who helped began walking behind Hiraman, and grabbed him while the security guard tried to wrest his gun from him. He reported that Hiraman was quiet while being restrained. Yesterday, a police commissioner called to congratulate the student who aided police.

Hiraman, according to police, showed up to campus at 2:20 p.m., 10 minutes before his next class started.

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Many students said they had seen Hiraman crossing campus to Marillac Hall, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, fatigue pants and a rubber mask.

At 2:38, a text message was sent to students, notifying them that an armed man had been confronted on campus and directed them to stay put. Police then made sweeps of campus buildings, where many students had locked themselves in, said an N.Y.P.D. assistant chief.

This was the first time the university had used the new text-messaging system, which had become available at the start of the school year, according to the university’s vice president of public safety.

Relatives and friends tensely waited outside the campus. Text messages fired back and forth between students, sometimes including rumors of a hostage situation or a second or third suspect.

At around 5:30 p.m. as thousands of students streamed out of the campus buildings, most said the situation was managed well.

This situation demonstrated how campus safety has been re-examined since last April’s Virginia Tech tragedy.

One student, who had been watching the incident from a window, reported that Hiraman did not look like he intended to kill students.

Hiraman’s lawyer said that his client had enrolled in Cornell University, but then transferred to St. John’s, and that his client was tired and confused. He added that Hiraman was surprised that his arrest had caused a furor on campus.

Hiraman’s father mentioned that his son had surgery for scoliosis not too long ago and may have been reacting to medication.

Police said that Hiraman’s gun held one round of black powder-charge ammunition. Charges are pending.

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