By Nicholas K. Geranios
SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University will review its weapons policy as two students who used a pistol to scare off an intruder appeal their probation for having guns in their university-owned apartment.
Executive Vice President Earl Martin said Monday the university will try to turn the incident into a teachable moment by re-examining its no-weapons policy.
"We will consider the scope of the policy, but always guided by what is in the best interest of student safety," Martin said. He could not predict how long the process may take.
Bans on firearms in university-owned buildings and residences are common across the country, Martin said.
Gonzaga, a Jesuit university known for its basketball program, is a school of about 8,000 students near downtown Spokane.
Students Erik Fagan, 21, and Daniel McIntosh, 23, were informed by the university over the weekend they were on probation and could be suspended or expelled for any more violations of the university's code of conduct, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Their lawyer, Dean Chuang, said Gonzaga should consider student safety above all else.
"We're glad that it didn't have to end in tragedy for them to consider changing the policy there," Chuang said. "Our boys were armed and stopped a home invasion here."
A homeless man came to their door Oct. 24 demanding money and trying to force his way inside.
Fagan said he offered the man a blanket and a can of food but refused to hand over any cash. The man became agitated and combative, he told the newspaper.
Fagan shouted for McIntosh, who came downstairs holding a loaded 10 mm Glock pistol.
"I draw on him," McIntosh said. "As soon as he sees me, he decides he doesn't want to deal with me. So he takes off."
The men called police and campus security. Fagan has a concealed weapons permit, he said.
Campus security returned the next day and confiscated McIntosh's pistol and Fagan's shotgun, which he uses for hunting and sport shooting.
The men say their guns were seized illegally and are seeking to have them returned.
They say they are glad they weren't expelled but they're appealing their probation because they don't want the sanction on their school records.
Students are not allowed to have guns in their homes if they live on campus or in a university-owned apartment. The university discipline board on Friday found Fagan and McIntosh responsible for two violations: possessing weapons on school grounds and putting others in danger by the use of weapons.
The man who went to their door, John M. Taylor, 29, is a six-time felon, said police spokeswoman Monique Cotton. His crimes have included riot with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful imprisonment.
Officers responding to an initial report of a residential burglary found him in the area, Cotton said. He was jailed on an arrest warrant from the state Department of Corrections, she said. Typically that means a person under department supervision has violated terms of release. Taylor was no longer on the jail roster Monday.
Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said records were not available Monday because of the Veterans Day holiday, so he couldn't speak about Taylor. Arrest warrants are commonly issued when people fail to report to a supervisor or for treatment.
There was no answer Monday at the Spokane County public defender's office, which might represent Taylor.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press