Gonzaga students use gun to deter belligerent man at front door

Policy prohibits students from having guns in any university-owned building

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When a Gonzaga University student chased a belligerent man from his front door at gunpoint, he and his roommate didn’t imagine the incident might result in their expulsion.

But seniors Erik Fagan and Daniel McIntosh may both be kicked out of school after they were found in violation of the school’s weapons policy, which prohibits students from having guns in any university-owned building. The students live in student apartments owned by the university, though they’re considered to be off campus.

At 10:15 p.m. Oct. 24, Fagan, 21, and McIntosh, 23, were settling in for the evening when there was a knock on the door. Fagan opened the door to see an apparently homeless man demanding money.

Fagan offered the man a blanket and a can of food but refused to hand over any cash, he said. The man became combative.

The man came toward him, shouting at him, Fagan said. The narrow entryway prevented him from shutting the door without injuring himself. He shouted for McIntosh, who came running downstairs holding a loaded 10 mm Glock pistol.

“I come down with the gun at a low ready, as per how I’ve been trained,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh saw his roommate and the man standing there, he said. The stranger’s hand was behind his back. McIntosh didn’t know what the man was doing, but he didn’t take any risks.

“I draw on him,” McIntosh said, lifting his arms into the air to demonstrate. “As soon as he sees me, he decides he doesn’t want to deal with me. So he takes off.”

The men called police and campus security; both arrived within minutes. McIntosh told the police officer he’d chased the man off with the pistol, for which he has a concealed weapons permit, he said.

The officer commended the young men for their actions, telling them they used the right amount of force to keep themselves safe, Fagan said. The campus security guard didn’t address the school’s weapons policy at that time, Fagan and McIntosh said.

Gonzaga Executive Vice President Earl Martin said the security guard was new and wasn’t sure of the school’s policy. He waited until he had consulted with his superiors to take the weapons from the home.

At 2 a.m., the two men awoke to pounding on their bedroom doors.

It was campus security. They entered the home, went upstairs to the bedrooms and hammered on the doors, telling them to give up the weapons, the students said.

The officers confiscated McIntosh’s Glock and Fagan’s shotgun, which he uses for hunting.

The two appeared before a board for a student conduct hearing Friday, where they were found in violation of student policies. They will find out the outcome this week

In the wake of public outcry, however, the university announced Saturday that it will re-examine its weapons policy.

Though the policy is in line with those at many other universities, the incident opens the door to “thoughtful evaluation” of the policy, Gonzaga President Thayne M. McCulloh said in a statement.

“I believe this to be an opportunity to do some important work, as a community,” McCulloh said. “To objectively re-examine our firearms policy and openly debate perspectives and contextual issues with an eye towards an honest and open review of the same.”

Vice President for Student Development Judi Biggs Garbuio will work with the Gonzaga Student Body Association and the Residence Hall Association to “facilitate a campus dialogue,” McCulloh said.

In the meantime, McCulloh added, GU’s Student Handbook and its Code of Conduct will remain in effect for all Gonzaga students.

Dean Chuang, Fagan and McIntosh’s attorney, said the university needs to consider student safety above all else as officials are examining its policies.

“We’re glad that it didn’t have to end in tragedy for them to consider changing the policy there,” Chuang said. “Our boys were armed and stopped a home invasion here.”