A former Cornell University student was arrested March 15 for having a supply of weapons stocked in his household.
The Ithaca Police Department began investigating the student, 20–year–old Maximilien Reynolds, March 7, Jamie Williamson, public information officer at the Ithaca Police Department, said in a press release. Reynolds lived in an apartment on the 100 block of Dryden Road, which is 0.4 miles from Cornell and 2.2 miles from Ithaca College. The release stated that the officers recovered weapons including an unassembled AR-15 rifle, a gas mask, a homemade silencer, ammunition to various firearms, equipment commonly used to assemble destructive devices, high-capacity rifle magazines, medical trauma supplies, a bulletproof vest, food rations and fireworks.
Reynolds was charged with the possession of a destructive device and a silencer. Additionally, he was charged with aiding and abetting the straw purchase of a rifle, meaning he encouraged an individual to purchase the rifle for someone else who could not purchase it, in the United States Northern District Court of New York on March 16, according to the release.
Reynolds is being held without bail pending a hearing, according to the release.
Reynolds can face a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of the charges against him, including a term of supervised release of up to 3 years and a fine of up to $10,000 for the possession of a firearm and of a silencer. And a term of supervised release of up to 3 years, and a fine of up to $250,000 for the straw purchase of the rifle.
Williamson said the Ithaca Police Department received a tip for the investigation from a local store employee. The criminal complaint document from the United States Northern District Court of New York specified that the tipster was a Walmart employee.
Williamson said the Ithaca Police Department has had previous interactions with Reynolds.
The court document also said Reynolds was on a leave of absence from Cornell and was taking classes at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Williamson said he could not confirm if Reynolds was receiving treatment for mental health issues at Cayuga Medical Center, as the court document stated.
Kathy Zoner, chief of the Cornell University Police Department, said in a statement that her department is cooperating with the Ithaca Police Department and the FBI. She said that none of the departments believe there is a threat present to the Cornell campus or to Collegetown.
This incident occurred in the midst of school shootings nationwide. Recent attacks have included the March 20 shooting at Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, Maryland, as well as the shooting on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. There have been 17 school shootings in the United States so far in 2018.
According to the Office of Partner Engagement, a branch of the FBI, there were 220 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2016. Out of these 220 incidents, 21.8 percent occurred in educational settings.
An earlier report released by the FBI in 2014 pertaining to active shooters, demonstrated that the average number of mass shootings per year has been increasing. According to this document, between 2000 and 2006 there was an average of 6.4 active shootings per year. Between 2007 and 2013 the annual average of shootings increased by 61 percent to 16.4 shootings per year.
In this same report, the FBI found that 40 percent of the shootings between 2000 and 2013 fell under the category of a mass killing. According to the report, a mass killing is federally defined as a killing with three or more fatalities in a single event.
Junior Matthew Jarvis said learning about the arrest and confiscation of firearms and other weapons did not shock him because of recent national events, but he was impressed by the containment of the threat.
“I have to say I applaud the law enforcement officials and whoever tipped them on this,” Jarvis said. “They were able to prevent another possible tragedy.”
Freshman Charlie Winston said the threat of Reynold’s made him angry and increased his frustration toward policymakers. Winston said Reynold’s possession of specifically high-capacity weapons was particularly upsetting.
“We need more politicians that will put aside lobbyists,” Winston said. “I think that people should have the right to own guns for hunting and sport. I’m totally okay with heavily regulated gun control and allowing to have semi– or single–shot weapons but not weapons of war. No one needs an instrument of war to kill a squirrel.”
The college has announced resources for the campus community to prepare for active shooter situations. The college is offering presentations and training on what to do in violent situations and an emergency readiness and response guide.
The Office of Public Safety is in the midst of scheduling around six of these active shooter training presentations over the next month for a variety of populations, Lieutenant Tom Dunn in the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management said.
Dunn also said the Reynolds incident is a reminder that the college and the surrounding area are not immune from active shooter situations. Dunn said each individual must be willing to play a role in the prevention of these tragedies.
“This incident occurring is certainly a reflection of the fact that it could happen in our community,” Dunn said. “‘If you see something, say something’ is really a good mantra to have because I want us to be looking out for each other and alert and aware… there’s only so many police, and so many residential assistants. We need our community members to pick up the phone and make that phone call.”
A national March for Our Lives rally organized by survivors of the Parkland shooting will be held March 24 in Washington D.C. to protest against gun violence and mass school shootings. A rally will be held at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons on March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. in solidarity with this event.