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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Gun scare jolts Carleton

By Jane Dudzinski
News Editor

Friday, March 5, 2004

A Carleton student on a leave of absence brought two weapons into Sayles-Hill Campus Center last Thursday and fired one shot into a wall during a radio show broadcast before the Northfield Police Depart-ment took him into custody.

Christopher R. Peterson, 21, is now being charged with felony terroristic threat, according to Investigative Sergeant Roger Schroeder of the Northfield Police Department. Both of the weapons that Peterson possessed were "look-alike" weapons in that they were not actual weapons, but rather made to look like real weapons, Schroeder said.

When Peterson entered the radio station on the basement floor of the building around 4 a.m., he "looked peculiar and was brandishing a rifle," according to Carleton Dean of Students Mark Govoni. The student was in an "altered state, due to alcohol, drugs or the lack of [prescription] drugs," he said.

Govoni said that the DJ, who was at the radio station alone, immediately called a friend for backup. With the persuasion of the two students, Peterson eventually turned over the rifle, but first fired a second weapon, a pellet gun, into the wall of the radio station.

Soon, Carleton Campus Security, along with the four Northfield Police officers on duty, arrived at the scene. Peterson was taken into custody, brought to the Northfield Hospital and then held in the Rice County Jail before he was released Monday morning.

According to Schroeder, Peterson's felony terroristic threat charge is described as "a threat to harm someone with a weapon," and there is a particular section of the charge that "deals with look-alike weapons." Schroeder said that after counseling and treatment, Peterson's case will be reviewed individually as to whether or not it will become a part of his criminal record.

Govoni said that incidents of this kind have been rare during his time as dean of students at Carleton.

"Outside intruders have come in before, but I have not known of a student [bringing a weapon to campus] during my nine years," Govoni said.

Since the event, Govoni has taken precautions to prevent similar situations in the future. He said that he asked the advisory board at the radio station to review appropriate emergency protocol for after hours.

Govoni said that the board would "dust off" the current protocol before deciding whether or not even to "examine another level of security."

Govoni feels adamant that Peterson will not be back on the Carleton campus for a while.

"We would not allow [Peterson] back until his mental health improves, if ever," Govoni said.

Govoni also commended the two Carleton students at the radio station for their calmness and quickthinking skills in the situation.

"They were able to engage [Peterson] as a colleague&It is a remarkable example of being composed under duress," Govoni said. "I know that they were pretty freaked out and broke out into a cold sweat later for what might have happened."

Since Carleton students became aware of the event (after receiving a security bulletin through e-mail later during that day), they have experienced mixed reactions to what happened.

"It was more weird than scary," Annaka Larson, a sophomore who had a radio show at a similar time last year, said. "But I think that it has woken people up to the fact that maybe people shouldn't be sitting alone in Sayles at night."

Others agreed that they were more startled than scared by the incident.

"When I brought it up at dinner, no one really seemed to have anything to say about it&There really hasn't been any reaction so far as I can tell," Sam Kelly, a junior, said. "It didn't scare me as much as it dumbfounded me. The whole situation is just too weird."

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