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Community College Student Announces Shooting Online before Firing

An 18-year-old New River Community College student turned himself in to police after firing a shotgun at the school’s mall campus Friday, killing no one, but injuring two women.

The most bizarre part of this story, besides the obvious derangement a person has to have to believe shooting their colleagues is a good idea, is that the gunman posted his intentions online just moments before carrying them out. A post on online anonymous image forum 4chan allegedly made by the shooter states his name, the type of gun he planned to use (a “Stevens 320 shotgun”), and even linked to his student profile page. It also included a photograph of the school’s entrance.

Moments after the post went online, shots broke out at the mall. When officers arrived, the gunman put down his weapon and surrendered. So far, his motive remains unknown.

The shooting took place ten miles from Virginia Tech, the site where one of the worst college shootings in history occurred almost exactly six years prior. The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 and injured 17 more before turning a gun on himself. In his internet post, yesterday’s shooter said he had no intention of killing himself unless the situation got really far out of control.

It’s important for college students to remain on the lookout for suspicious behaviors and report them to the authorities to help fight the influx of shooting rampages that seems to have risen in recent years.

Most Common On-Campus Criminal Offenses

Most college students want to believe that their college campus is a safe, secure environment where they are free to learn and have fun without the threat of serious danger. Unfortunately, crime on college campuses is a reality that far too many students have to contend with. The Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education collects annual information on a variety of crimes that occur on college campuses each year. While these reports include all alleged crimes, the statistics are shocking in some respects.

At public, 4-year (or more) institutions with 10,000+ students, the most commonly reported criminal offense in recent years was burglary, with 6,712 burglaries reported in 2011, down from 7,241 the year before. These ratings are for on-campus events only, so these numbers do not reflect burglaries or alleged burglaries that take place in off campus student housing, like apartment complexes.

A far distant second to burglaries, motor vehicle theft is the second most reported criminal offense on college campuses of the above-mentioned size, with 1,349 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2011, up from 1,336 in 2010.

Finally, the third most commonly-reported criminal offense on college campuses is forced sexual assault, with 1,153 reported in 2011, which is a slight increase from 1,038 in 2010.

Depending on the offense at hand, crimes that occur on college campuses can be dealt with in a number of ways. For more serious criminal offenses like those listed above, non-campus law enforcement is often involved, and most of the individuals accused of these crimes will need to secure the assistance of a criminal lawyer to defend them.

However, for some smaller offenses, individuals may not need to secure outside legal representation, as the matter may be dealt with on-campus. Many large universities have student courts that deal with on-campus offenses, and for some offenses, students will simply represent themselves in front of this organization if charged with an offense.

Some crimes on campus are more severe and require higher authority. Campus police and courts can only handle cases to an extent.If your case needs more attention, you or your peer may need to speak with a lawyer about your legal options and the upcoming steps to seek out compensation. A criminal attorney from your state may be able to answer any questions that may arise from your situation. Seeking out the legal guidance for these type of situations may be helpful.


On-Campus Disciplinary Actions

There are a variety of offenses and violations that can occur on a college campus, with varying degrees of severity. For more severe crimes and offenses, off-campus law enforcement frequently must be called in to handle the incident, resulting in criminal charges against the accused individual(s).

However, for a wide variety of offenses that take place on colleges and universities across the U.S., the schools themselves have a system in place to deal with violations of school code, rules, or honor codes.  Some schools have a disciplinary committee in place, often comprised of both students and teachers or administrators, while others have a completely student-run Student Court that will rule on offenses that take place on campus and issue penalties to those accused.

In 2011, various alcohol-related violations were the most frequently dealt with on-campus crime, with 81,541 incidents reported at public, 4 year (or higher) institutions with 10,000 or more students. Depending on a school’s rules, many of these cases will be dealt with internally, and outside law-enforcement and criminal lawyers will not be involved in the case at all.

However, for more serious offenses, like drug-related offenses, incidents might be dealt with on campus, by outside law enforcement officials, or by both. For campuses the same size as those referenced above, there were 21,689 drug abuse incidents reported in the U.S. in 2011 that resulted in on-campus disciplinary action.

Much less common of an on-campus offense was possession of a weapon, with only 423 incidents reported in 2011.

While alcohol intoxication, drug use, and weapons possession can all pose potential dangers to the safety and well-being of college students, many universities are taking aggressive action against students accused of these actions, exposing some to state or federal legal action, while others to on-campus penalties, including suspension or expulsion.



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Larry Benneth+