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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    5 referred to dean for brandishing fake guns

    Five UA students and another man thought they were just having some harmless fun with fake guns right before spring break, but the game quickly led to a confrontation with police.

    Microbiology sophomore Levi Trujillo said he and his friends were playing capture the flag with air soft guns around 11 p.m. on March 10 outside the Alumni Plaza when police arrived.

    Air soft guns shoot soft plastic pellets, and Trujillo said the group had broken up into two teams and were playfully shooting at each other.

    Trujillo said they’d been playing for about 40 minutes when a police officer in dark clothes came around the corner and aimed a shotgun at him and his two friends.

    Trujillo said he and his friends immediately dropped the toy guns, which they had purchased that night, and raised their hands in the air.

    According to the police report, officers were told some men had guns on campus and thought the toy guns were real.

    Trujillo said the officer told them to lie on the ground, examined the toy guns and called for backup.

    “”We soon found ourselves tightly handcuffed, our forearms crossed behind our backs, which lasted for about 20 minutes,”” Trujillo said.

    Trujillo said the officer was very aggressive and proceeded to search and question them.

    “”We found it strange that the officer would pull a shotgun on us and treat us as if we were thugs,”” he said. “”I expected the officers to examine the guns, realize they were toys and tell us to go home.””

    After the detainment, Trujillo said they met up with the other three friends and found out they had also been detained and questioned by officers.

    The toy guns were confiscated, and the friends were told they would be referred to the Dean of Students Office for having weapons on campus.

    The UA is a gun-free zone, meaning there are stricter requirements for having a firearm on campus.

    Members of the ROTC contact police before conducting any drills that require a firearm, and people with concealed weapon permits cannot bring a gun on campus.

    Police acted as they did because they have to take every precaution when weapons may be involved, said UAPD spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia.

    He said even toy pistols could lead to a dangerous confrontation.

    “”Officers have to make split-second decisions,”” he said. “”Anything that could be perceived as a deadly weapon should not be on campus.””

    Mejia said if the students had exhibited any threatening behavior toward the officers, it could have led to a tragedy.

    “”A fun game could turn deadly if you were to confront the wrong individual,”” he said.

    None of those involved live on campus, but if they did, it could have caused more problems.

    Dave Wietecha, coordinator for judicial affairs at Residence Life, said having air soft guns in the dorms is cause for eviction.

    “”We do it for safety,”” he said. “”They could be perceived as real and lead to a student getting shot.””

    The eviction would be automatic because the toy gun could be used to threaten people, he said.

    However, anthropology sophomore Tony Howard said none of the students realized that air soft guns weren’t allowed on campus.

    “”Come on, they’re toys,”” he said. “”Even though we were shooting at each other, no one was bleeding or hurt in any way.””

    Howard said he counted about seven cops at the scene that night and said he thinks UAPD overreacted. He said the toy guns looked fake, with some being painted bright orange, gold or silver.

    Howard said the students have not yet heard anything from the Dean of Students Office and said police should make the no gun policy more clear.

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