September 27, 2007

Gunman at St. John's Univ. Linked to Cornell

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A 22-year-old freshman student at St. John’s University, Omesh Hiraman from Jackson Heights, Queens, was arrested yesterday after bringing a single-shot rifle to campus.

Omesh Hiraman ’06, an engineering student from Jackson Heights, Queens, attended Cornell from fall 2002 to spring 2005, according to the Cornell press office; the Hiraman who attended Cornell would be 22.

A Cornell alumnus who asked to remain anonymous confirmed that the Omesh Hiraman who was arrested today was enrolled in at least one course at the University.

“I totally saw it coming,” another Cornell grad who lived with Hiraman their freshman year and attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City with him, stated in an e-mail.

“We had kicked him out of our dorm after several incidents and arguments,” that alumnus added later. “He would flip out over small things. We all disliked him as a person and as a roommate because he was not considerate and not very approachable.”

Police said that other students, including an off-duty police cadet, saw a student wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a George W. Bush mask. The student was carrying a black plastic bag with what appeared to be a rifle sticking out.

The cadet, whom the AP identified as Christopher Benson, followed Hiraman to another campus building. Benson grabbed the riffle and subdued Hiraman with the help of campus security officers.

Public safety officials notified the police, and Hiraman was in custody by 2:30 p.m., according to the AP.

No injuries were reported. New York Police Department spokesperson Paul Browne told the Associated Press that it was unclear why he brought a gun, which was loaded with one bullet, to campus yesterday.

Public safety officials searched all the school buildings and facilities; students were unable to leave buildings until 5:30 p.m. Classes were canceled yesterday but will resume today.

St. John’s is a Catholic university with three residential campuses in New York City; the Queens campus is the main one. About 20,000 students attend St. John’s.

The university activated a new emergency communication system that was created after April’s shooting at Virginia Tech.