Police report 6th recent UA gun incident
A University of Arizona student was caught by police Tuesday night storing a handgun in his dorm room - marking the sixth gun-related incident near campus in the last week and a half.
Police found a loaded AMT .45-caliber pistol along with a full seven-round clip in a student's room in the Navajo Residence Hall, 1557 E. Sixth St., after someone reported that the student had the gun in his room.
The student told police he was storing the pistol because he had recently purchased it at a gun show, and he did not have any other place to put it, police reports stated.
Police confiscated the gun and enrolled the student in the UA Dean of Student's Diversion Program on suspicion of a weapons violation.
Sgt. Michael Smith, a UAPD spokesman, said the student was diverted because police could not prove that the student had any intention other than storing the weapon.
"Obviously the officer has the ultimate discretion and the diversion program fit into this case," he said.
James Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life, said anyone having a gun in a residence hall is a serious problem.
"Guns introduce a level of insecurity that is significant. Not only are guns used to hurt people, they scare people," he said.
The university's campus is a weapon-free zone.
But according to police, there have been 19 gun-related incidents reported to UAPD since September 1998.
Smith said not all the incidents involved someone being assaulted.
An incident could be anything from possession, concealing the gun in a vehicle or finding a weapon during an arrest, he added.
Weapon violations vary with situations, Smith said. If a person is concealing a weapon on campus, it is a misdemeanor. But if the person brandishes the gun, then it can turn into felony endangerment.
Five of those 19 incidents occurred last week. The incidents include a student being robbed by someone at gunpoint and students being shot at while driving near East Sixth Street and North Euclid Avenue.
Another shooting occurred Saturday night when Dr. Richard Carmona, a UA physician consultant and Pima County Sheriff's Deputy, shot and killed an armed man who was attacking a woman after a traffic altercation at North Campbell Avenue and East Grant Road.
"We have increased our officer presence at night," Smith said.
He encouraged students to utilize the ASUA Escort Service along with taking precautions.
"Don't take safety lightly," Smith said. "I forever, in talks with people, say there is not a fence around campus. We are as susceptible to crimes as anywhere in Tucson."
Though university police decided to enroll the student caught possessing a gun Tuesday in the diversion program because of certain circumstances, the student could still face serious consequences with Residence Life.
Van Arsdel said any student possessing a gun in a dorm is violating the resident contract for their room and could be removed from the building.
"University police has no jurisdiction whether students get kicked out of the residence hall - it's Residence Life's decision," Van Arsdel said.
Van Arsdel said gun-related incidents are few and far between, but that does not mean guns are not present in the residence halls.
"Students are typically safe. Guns aren't typically present to my knowledge," Van Arsdel said. "But the real question is - how many incidents occur that we don't know about?"
Jason PeŘa, an English literature junior, said he generally feels safe on campus.
"I've never seen any disturbance during the day or night for that matter," PeŘa said.
Andrew Richard, a media arts senior, agreed that the area is generally a safe place.
"Tucson to me is not a violent place," said Richard, adding that as a Chicago native, he has seen a lot more violence than most people who have lived here all of their lives.
Marketing freshman Cheryl Liu said she always takes precaution when traveling on campus at night.
"It's just common sense, when the sun sets - you don't go out alone," Liu said.