Student charged with felony, drops classes; ‘no threat indicated’
A student arrested Jan. 29 for bringing a loaded handgun to class has withdrawn from all on-campus courses, administrators said Monday.
Cody Lane Black, 21, was arrested Jan. 29 in the Science Laboratory Building on the Washington Street Campus and booked into the Potter County Detention Center. Jail records show Black was charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm in a prohibited place, a Class 3 felony.
The arrest followed a report filed with the Amarillo College Police Department two days earlier that stated another person had seen a handgun tucked into the back waistband of Black’s pants, Cpl. Scott Acker said.
“A college employee contacted ACPD on the 27th in regards to a witness that had seen an AC student at an event that was being held on the Washington Street Campus who was trying to conceal a gun,” Acker said.
The witness, who was on campus for the Coffee Memorial Blood Drive, and the college employee spoke with police and filed a report, Acker said. After some investigation, police were able to determine that Black was the student in question and that he would be on campus again Jan. 29 for a class in the Science Laboratory Building.
About 10:30 a.m. on that Thursday, Acker said, Officer Stephanie Birkenfeld located Black and asked if he would be willing to speak with Acker regarding the report filed the previous Tuesday. Birkenfeld asked Black if he was carrying a gun, and he told her had a pocket knife but had left the gun in his car.
“She was going to do a pat-down (for her safety) when the student admitted he had the gun,” Acker said.
Birkenfeld located the gun, a loaded .45-caliber hangun, in Black’s waistband, Acker said. Black was placed under arrest and taken to the ACPD office, where he was read his rights and underwent further questioning.
Acker said Black admitted he did have the gun on his person at the time of the blood drive the previous Tuesday. The confiscated gun was booked into evidence.
Though he admitted carrying the gun on campus at least twice, Black was not found to have a concealed handgun license.
April Sessler, associate vice president of student affairs, said Black had completed CHL classes but had not obtained a license.
Even if Black had obtained a license, it is against the law to carry firearms on college campuses in Texas.
“It’s moot. It’s against the law either way,” said Joe Wyatt, AC communications coordinator.
Having a gun at AC also comes with disciplinary issues, Sessler said.
“One of the things that violates the code of conduct is breaking the law on campus,” she said. “You deal with that in the legal process. On our side, there’s also the campus discipline issue.”
Sessler said Black met with her Monday morning to discuss the incident and agreed to withdraw from all on-campus courses for at least this semester.
He will continue to complete coursework in any online classes in which he is enrolled.
“Our intent is first of all to protect everybody’s safety, including his, and do whatever is possible for our students to complete their education,” Sessler said.
Black had no history of confrontation or disciplinary problems, she said. The incident Jan. 29 was not seen as a threat to others on campus, Sessler added.
“He never had it out,” she said.
Acker agreed and said that after questioning Black, he found there was no indicator that the incident would have turned hostile. He said it appeared it was a lack of knowledge on Black’s part.
Wyatt said his office was not informed of the initial report and found out about the incident only after Black had been arrested and was on his way to jail. There was no reason to put out an alert at that time, he said, since the situation had been resolved and no longer posed a threat to students.
“By the time it was reported beyond the police to anybody, he was off the campus,” Wyatt said. “It’s like sending out a, ‘Duck! Take cover!’ and then, ‘Oh the tornado’s already gone.’ There was no imminent danger, and that’s what an alert was meant to do.”
Acker said the incident was a prime example of police and the AC community working together to keep the campuses safe.
“If you see something, say something,” Acker said.
Black declined to comment on the incident, stating that he was advised not to speak with media.