NEW YORK (AP) -- Police have arrested a Queens, New York, college student accused of walking around on his school's campus carrying a single-shot rifle and wearing a George W. Bush rubber mask.
No injuries were reported in the incident Wednesday at St. John's University, a Catholic school with about 20,000 students. NYPD spokesman Paul Brown says it is not known at this point "why on this particular day" the suspect brought a gun on campus.
The suspect is identified by police as Omesh Hiraman, 22.
Other students, one of them a police cadet, reported seeing the armed man at around 2:30 p.m. walking near a building on the campus around the time he was supposed to be in a business class there, police said. The man was carrying a plastic bag with the barrel of a .50-caliber rifle sticking out and was wearing the Bush mask, with its mouth cut out.
Unarmed campus security officers and the student cadet tackled Hiraman as he walked toward a library, police said. Hiraman was turned over to the New York Police Department, which later searched his home near the campus.
The rifle was loaded with one bullet, police said.
Hiraman's father, Pat Hiraman, said the incident was "a misunderstanding" and his son, who lives at home near the school, "would never harm anyone."
"Our son has always been a good boy and has never been in any sort of trouble," said Pat Hiraman, adding that Omesh hasn't been the same since having back surgery, and has been under heavy medication.
Students were told to stay inside their classrooms and buildings until around 5:30 p.m. Classes on the campus were canceled for the evening.
Kevin Su, an editor of the student newspaper, said students were ushered into buildings that were staffed with security guards and told to stay put. He said there was not much discussion of whether there were similarities between the incident Wednesday and the April 16 rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech, where a student gunman killed 32 people and then himself.
"I think it's basically on everyone's mind," Su said. "It doesn't need to be said outright."
Posted by KO