As various media outlets reported yesterday, NYU student Bernard Goal was arrested on Monday for the illegal possession of air rifles. According to police, Goal was charged with five misdemeanor counts of violating a local law which bans the possession or sale of such weapons.
A maintenance crew made the initial discovery during a visit to Goal’s 17th floor Lafayette room. The workers informed campus security guards, who then called the police after they found the Airsoft rifles. The weapons were out in the open, which meant they were well within NYU’s jurisdiction.
But Goal’s roommates said that people had been too quick to sensationalize the incident. “It definitely got extremely blown out [of proportion],” one roommate told NYU Local. “As far as I’m concerned, from what I hear about it, it’s just a hobby.”
We spoke with three of Goal’s suitemates last night after police left their room. The boys, who wished to remain anonymous, described the events of Monday night and Tuesday afternoon. “The cops were in our room for the entire night,” they said. “The NYU guards and the NYPD were here at all times, and they would switch shifts. They were basically here making sure nobody tampered with the evidence in the room.”
According to his roommates, police obtained a search warrant yesterday, which meant they could look through Goal’s personal belongings. When the cops finally left on Tuesday, they brought bags full of his things with them, the roommates said.
Goal, 20, is a psychology student at NYU, and hails from Sugar Land, Texas, according to his Facebook profile. The page also lists him as working at Coles Sports Center as an Operations Monitor.
In an email to Lafayette residents which was also posted around the residence hall, NYU’s Vice President for Global Security and Crisis Management Jules Martin said that the University was taking the necessary precautions to protect its students. “In this day and age, especially given recent events at Virginia Tech and Newtown, Conn., the University will respond swiftly to protect the safety of our community when there is even a possibility of gun involvement,” he wrote. “Unauthorized possession of such items subject members of the University to disciplinary action.”
The weapons Goal had in his possession were not real assault rifles, but rather “realistic-looking pellet guns,” which “shoot small plastic BB-like pellets,” according to the email.
John Beckman, NYU’s Vice President for Public Affairs, emphasized Martin’s point. “I am glad this incident ended without any injury and didn’t involve real firearms,” he wrote in an email to NYU Local. “With a few narrow exceptions that require permission–such as use on a theatrical production–all guns, real and fake, are prohibited on campus. Even fake guns are a danger, since they may be mistaken for real ones, with the potential for tragic consequences.”
Goal’s suitemates, however, believe that in light of the recent events in Boston, their roommate’s story has been overhyped. “It’s all a result of what happened in Boston and people reacting,” said one. A second agreed, and added that “that’s exactly how NYU wants to view it. Because they don’t want it to be like, ‘crazy NYU student, don’t come here!’” And as for the claims that he ran a “weapons factory” out of his dorm room? His roommates dismissed this, reiterating that his collection had just been part of a hobby.
For now, life at Lafayette Hall remains a little more exciting than usual. A reporter and cameraman from CBS News were stationed outside the building all day yesterday, attempting to get comments from students, and a security guard told us he thought they would be there today as well. Even non-residents are getting in on the action–one man standing on the corner asked passersby whether something had happened “at the college.”
According to DNAinfo, Goal was expected to be arraigned last night. We’ll update the story once we hear more.
[image 1 via Goal's Facebook page, all other images via the author]