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Queens Chronicle

St. John’s University Gunman Declared Unfit To Stand Trial

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2007 12:00 am

The St. John’s University gunman, who terrorized the Jamaica Estates campus on Sept. 26, will be going to a psychiatric facility rather than jail.

Omesh Hiraman, 22, of East Elmhurst, was found to be incompetent to stand trial following a report by court-appointed psychiatrists. They determined that he lacked the capacity to understand the proceedings against him or assist in his own defense. His attorneys agreed with the findings.

The decision was announced on Monday in a proceeding presided over by Queens Criminal Court Judge Joseph Zayas.

Hiraman was ordered to be turned over to the state commissioner of the Department of Mental Health for 90 days. After that, the state can seek additional commitment if deemed necessary.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the charges against Hiraman have been dismissed. “The defendant is clearly a very troubled young man,” he said. “Under the circumstances, the court’s decision is the right one for all concerned.”

Hiraman, a St. John’s student, came to campus with a .50-caliber loaded rifle, wearing a Halloween mask and hood. He was spotted by a number of students with the rifle in a black plastic garbage bag.

Students alerted campus security and one of the guards, Dan Boylan, came upon him on a second-floor breezeway of Marillac Hall. Boylan was assisted in apprehending Hiraman by Christopher Benson, a student and police cadet.

Hiraman bought the rifle upstate, but did not have a license to carry it in New York City. After his arrest, the campus remained in a lockdown for several hours until it was ascertained that he was the lone gunman.

The gunman’s attorney said Hiraman suffered from schizophrenia and his condition was exacerbated by back surgery.

St. John’s credits its new security notification system for quickly informing students by text and phone messages about the gunman.

Both Boylan and Benson were honored by the university for bringing the incident to a close.

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