2007_09_stjmask.jpgThe St. John's student who was found carrying a .50 caliber rifle in a black plastic bag on the school's Queens campus and caused the campus to be locked down yesterday afternoon was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Omeash Hiraman, a 22-year-old finance student, had been wearing a Fred Flintstone mask and was stopped by campus security. A guard and another St. John's student who happens to be a police cadet restrained Hiraman.

Student Richard Lu described seeing Hiraman to the Daily News, "I saw the guy and I said, 'What a freak! Who is wearing a mask when it's 90 degrees out?' I saw he was carrying a bag on his shoulder. I realize now that was a gun. If I ever see a guy with a mask on again, I'm gonna tackle him and ask questions later." Another student, though, thought Hiraman was a drama student.

Police do not believe there was another person involved, though they did search for possible accomplices. The rifle is described as a single-shot weapon that uses gunpowder for a charge, and no other ammunition was found on Hiraman. Hiraman's lawyer said the gun was a “kind of like a Dick Cheney hunting rifle" and that his client is "not a person who would walk into Columbine and shoot people up."

2007_09_hiream.jpgHiraman graduated from Stuyvesant and attended Cornell before dropping out; the NY Times says he was a freshman at St. John's. Neighbors say that he "unraveled" recently and even stormed into a Queens lawyer's office to ask how to buy a gun. Classmates from high school and college did not think he would do anything violent. His father told the media that Hiraman may have reacted to medication for scoliosis surgery, "We believe this is a misunderstanding."

St. John's is being praised for sending out email and cellphone alerts to students, faculty and other employees to let them know about the emerging situation and telling them to remain in their buildings or not to come to the Queens campus. The recipients must sign up for the alert system.

And here's the timeline of the events, according to the AP:

2:20 p.m. -- A man wearing a black hooded sweat shirt is seen on security cameras getting out of a livery taxi at the campus' Gate 5 while carrying a rifle. He also is seen by several students.

2:21 p.m. -- A phone call is made to public safety reporting a male with a mask and a stick.

2:24 p.m. -- Another call is made to public safety reporting a man with a mask walking toward the law library.

2:25 p.m. -- Public safety officials call 911.

2:30 p.m. -- The man is apprehended by unarmed campus security officers and a student who is a police cadet.

2:38 p.m. -- The first text message goes out from the university to students and faculty members notifying them of the incident and asking them to stay indoors.

2:46 p.m. -- The second text message goes out to students and faculty members saying the man has been apprehended but they should remain indoors.

3:32 p.m. -- The final text message to students and faculty members notifies them the man is in custody; students are told to remain where they are on campus.

5:30 p.m. -- Students are let out of campus.