Posted on September 28, 2007

St. John’s on a ‘Red’ Alert

Murray Weiss, Larry Celona, Patrick Gallahue and Cathy Burke, New York Post, September 28, 2007

A St. John’s student, lugging a loaded rifle and wearing a creepy Halloween mask on the campus yesterday, was wrestled into custody by a quick—thinking NYPD cadet and guard—and within minutes, students were text-messaged to stay put while cops swarmed the grounds.

Frightened students—locked into classrooms, the gym and cafeteria at the Queens university—were both relieved at the timely warning and scared stiff at the prospect of a sicko sniper stalking the sprawling campus.


But thanks to a new text-messaging system put in place at the “Red Storm” university earlier this month—and the lightning-quick arrest of 22-year-old Omesh Hiraman, of Jackson Heights—no shots were fired.


NYPD cadet Chris Benson, a student, spotted Hiraman lugging a suspicious-looking bag and tailed him. A security guard then stopped him from going into a building, grabbing the single-shot, .50-caliber rifle.

Students were largely unaware of the dramatic events but were quickly informed to stay put and await further messages.

University officials said they don’t yet know how many were alerted via text, but that all 20,000 students on campus got an e-mail.


Hiraman’s father, Pat, last night called the incident a “misunderstanding.”

“He has never been in any sort of trouble,” the elder Hiraman said.

Hiraman has an older brother who’s a doctor. Another is an MIT graduate. The younger Hiraman, a Stuyvesant HS grad, attended Cornell University for a time, although he did not graduate—and was pushed to succeed by his parents, Jackson Heights neighbors said.

“He always had a book in his hand,” said Milagros Valdez.


A Delaware State University student accused of shooting two students last week admitted to firing shots and vowed to stay out of trouble if he got away with the shooting, according to court documents.

Loyer D. Braden, 18, was scheduled to appear Friday at a preliminary hearing on charges of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.


“Braden told witness . . . if he gets away with this shooting he would never do anything like this again,” campus police Lt. Donald Baynard said in the affidavit.


Another witness heard Braden say that he “fired several gunshots in the air to scare the victims,” Baynard wrote in the affidavit.