Malloy says disastrous situation at UNH campus prevented - WNEM TV 5

Malloy says disastrous situation at UNH campus prevented

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The following photo of William Dong was provided by the West Haven Police Department. The following photo of William Dong was provided by the West Haven Police Department.
William Dong's Facebook Page William Dong's Facebook Page

A commuter student arrested in connection with a shelter in place order at the University of New Haven after he was spotted with a gun faced a judge for the first time Wednesday.

West Haven police charged William Dong, 22, of Fairfield, with illegal possession of an assault weapon, illegal transport of an assault weapon, breach of peace and illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle.

Police said a 911 caller spotted Dong get out of his Toyota Rav4 with a long rifle at the Shop Rite, do something near the back of his vehicle and then "sprint toward" the nearby UNH campus.

As a result of the sighting, the university and three other West Haven schools were ordered to shelter in place.

Dong, a commuter student at UNH, was located on the campus with one handgun on his person and another inside his laptop case. Both were "loaded with a bullet in the chamber," police said.

Police took Dong, who has a valid pistol permit for the two registered handguns, into custody.

In the Toyota Rav4 he had parked, police found a Bushmaster 223 assault rifle with collapsible stock inside the vehicle. There were six magazines and at least 150 bullets in the car.

"The Bushmaster is banned as an assault weapon in Connecticut," police said in a release Wednesday.

When officers searched Dong's home, they said the bedroom door was padlocked and recovered 2,700 rounds of ammunition.

Investigators also found several newspaper articles of the Aurora, CO shooting where 12 people were killed and 70 were injured during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises at a Century movie theater.

Eyewitness News cameras were rolling when police took bins and bags out of Dong's home. Investigators are still not saying if Tuesday's incident was planned.

Friends came to Dong's defense on his Facebook page and said the whole incident is a misunderstanding. They said Dong delivers money in an armored truck, which is why he had the weapons.

Police have not confirmed that information.

UNH officials said Dong was in his first year at the university where his major was criminal justice. Dong was suspended by the university following a school hearing, UNH officials told Eyewitness News.

Any student found with a weapon including a firearm on campus will face "disciplinary sanctions," according to the university handbook.

Dong was arraigned in Milford Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon. His friends and family were at his appearance but did not want to comment to the media.

Dong's bond was kept at $500,000 following the arraignment.

UNH students reacted to the news of Dong's arrest.

"Imagine if he had brought all that to school with him, it could have been much bigger," said UNH student Ashley Carroll.

State Attorney Kevin Lawlor said the investigation is ongoing and they have not ruled out an increase in charges.

"Whether or not a tragedy was averted is for another day," Lawlor said. "But the response by the law enforcement community is admirable, and we're all better of for it, for the way they responded."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was on the UNH campus Wednesday night to commend those first responders for their quick actions Tuesday.

"One of the reasons I'm here is to say, 'Guess what, we caught something,'" Malloy said. "And if you were ever likely to become complacent, this is living proof, in our time, in this community, in our state, that you shouldn't do that."

Malloy said the quick actions of police helped prevent another violent school shooting.

"If you see something that's out of the ordinary, you need to let us know," Malloy said.

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