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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Public Safety responds with firearms after spotting BB gun on hidden camera

Published: April 28, 2009
Section: Front Page

Public Safety Officers drew their department issued semi-automatic firearms from their holsters after viewing live video surveillance footage of what appeared to be students in possession of a small firearm in Massell Quad at 8 p.m. Friday night, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said.

While no one was injured in the incident, this marks the first time a Brandeis public safety officer has drawn a firearm since they were issued on June 2, 2008.

According to Callahan, a responding public safety officer had been looking at footage from a closed circuit camera placed in the quad after receiving a call about marijuana use near Shapiro residence hall when a scan of the quad revealed a huddle of male students by Deroy residence hall holding what appeared to be a small caliber firearm.

The officer watching the live feed waited until the group of boys pulled the back slide of the fire arm back and forth—something that could not be done on a toy gun— and then put the gun in a paper bag before responding to the quad with armed officers.

“At that point the officers were concerned that there might be some sort of an illicit drug deal happening, between the weapon and the marijuana,” Callahan said. While Callahan was not present Friday night, he has reviewed the tapes “extensively.”

“They were concerned for the students’ safety,” he added.

Once on the scene, the officers drew their semiautomatic handguns from their holsters in order to secure the scene before ordering the three male students to put their hands in the air and to get on the ground, Jordan Rothman ’09, who watched the encounter from his room on the first floor of Deroy told, The Hoot.

“I heard a lot of shouting, so I looked out my window and saw two police officers, guns drawn, shouting ‘put your hands on your head and get on the ground,” Rothman said.

Callahan added that the officers who responded to the scene acted within department procedures.

Once the students were on the ground, the officers retrieved the small pellet gun and let the students stand up.

According to the Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, no weapons or articles that could be construed as weapons are allowed on campus.

Callahan said that this is the second time in the past month that police have recovered pellet guns from Massell Quad students.

A report about the incident has been filed with the office of the Dean of Student Life to be reviewed.

Editor’s Note: Jordan Rothman is a member of The Hoot Editorial Board.