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Stonehill college, someone found empty ammo boxes. Read on.

EASTON — They were five small soggy boxes discovered between two cars in a parking lot behind a dormitory, but their presence sent a chill through a college campus and led to a sleepless night for Stonehill College officials and police.

The orange-and-gray ammunition boxes, each about the size of a box of staples, were flat, wet and empty, but their “Remington” and “Winchester” labels clearly stated they had once contained buckshot intended for use in shotguns.

The school would learn almost 24 hours after the boxes were discovered that there appears to be an innocent explanation for the finding.

A Stonehill student notified police Thursday afternoon that the boxes may have fallen from his car. He had been skeet shooting out of state during the Easter holiday.

But the discovery Wednesday — two days after the Virginia Tech shootings — led to a campus lockdown.

Only a week ago, the boxes might have found their way into the trash, or been ignored completely. But the worst school massacre in the nation's history had occurred on the Virginia Tech campus two days earlier, and no one was taking any chances.

The unidentified student who found the boxes at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday notified campus police. At 8:25, Stonehill police called in Easton police for assistance. Police Chief Thomas F. Kominsky, the entire night shift of four officers, and three additional officers responded to the campus.

The Rev. Mark T. Cregan, Stonehill's president, learned about the boxes when he arrived home from a meeting at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday. He headed back to work O'Hara Hall, the mostly freshman dormitory near where the boxes were found, was under police surveillance. The students who owned the cars near the boxes agreed to searches of their vehicles and rooms, but nothing was discovered.

Erin Rickard, a 22-year-old resident staff assistant at O'Hara Hall, was enjoying reruns of “Dawson's Creek” with two other assistants when they heard commotion in the hallways at 9:45 p.m.

They decided to walk the dormitory to find out what was going on. Rickard saw Cregan, Stonehill Police Chief David DiNapoli and other college officials and police “looking serious.” The sight was “unsettling,” Rickard said.

Just after 10 p.m., officials decided to evacuate the 220 students from O'Hara Hall so police could search it. The fire alarm was sounded. Students exited through the front doors and were directed to the Martin Institute across the street. Some were just emerging from showers.

“It was scary at first,” said Diane Tobio, a 19-year-old freshman. “There was word that there were fire trucks outside, then the fire alarm went off. We went outside and there were cops everywhere. That's when we were told about the boxes.”

Inside the Martin Institute, Cregan, joined by DiNapoli and the Rev. Jim Fenstermaker, director of campus ministry, explained the situation.

The atmosphere was “familial,” Cregan said. He asked whether any other students had noticed the boxes. A number said they thought they had seen them as early as Sunday afternoon, Cregan said.

At 10:44 p.m., college officials placed an alert about the boxes on the school's Web site and on the college cable channel.

Some thought notification should have come sooner.

“After what happened in Virginia, I think it is fairly irresponsible and I think students should be told immediately,” said Ryan Kent, a 20-year-old sophomore who lives in O'Hara. “Information should spread far quicker — it is the most important thing the school should focus on.”

Kent added, “I can't criticize security here because they did a good job of explaining what was happening and made sure everyone got out of the building. There wasn't really any panic.”

Life settled down after students returned to O'Hara, Rickard said. Some called their parents. Some left for the night.

Tom Butler, 21, a resident staff assistant at du Lac Hall, called home to Long Island, just in case his parents heard about Stonehill on the news.

“My father is a New York City firefighter, so it takes a lot to rattle him,” said Butler.

Police monitored the situation throughout the night. The next morning, resident assistants met with groups of students face-to-face to explain the night's events.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, Cregan appeared in front of television cameras for a press conference.

“We pride ourselves on having a safe campus,” Cregan said. “We take security very seriously. The finding of something like this at any point would have generated the same response. Obviously, events at Virginia-Tech heightened our level of awareness.”

In September, when a Stonehill student was pictured on the “Facebook” Web site brandishing a pellet gun, the student was expelled from school, officials said.

Events at Virginia Tech have been on the minds of Stonehill students this week, Rickard said. A prayer service was held Thursday night in the Chapel of Mary.

“Definitely, everyone here has been thinking about it, how if this were to ever happen here, how devastating it would be,” Rickard said. “How we never expect something like that here.”

65 Posts
When did Skeet shooters start usig Buckshot. Something about this story does not sound right. The discription of the box size is realistic for a 5 pack box of Buckshot. But I don't believe anyone would use Buckshot to shoot skeet. Am I missing something here?

7,593 Posts
mrrem3200 I don't understand why don't you realize that this is the normal here in The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts. As is this story in the local news paper about the Town I live in they locked down the High School

According to police reports, at around 7:40
a.m., a member of the Oxford High School faculty
called to report a “number” of ammunition
rounds had been discovered in a stairwell.
Oxford Police Chief Charles K. Noyes said
rounds were .22 calibers, such as those used in
handgun and shotgun rounds.
“The appearance was that they were purposely
set down by someone,” Noyes said,
adding there seemed to be no attempt to conceal
the rounds.
Given all visitors to Oxford High School are
required to be buzzed before entering, and
then checked by the main office, Noyes feels it
was a student who planted the rounds.
“They [school officials] have a system in
place and it is secure,” he said. “At this time I
would not want to venture to question the
As of Monday, Noyes said there were no
leads or tips in the case, but did say the rounds
would be tested for fingerprints.
Noyes also applauded the response of the
school and his department.
“It is an effective way to deal with [the situation],”
said Noyes. “Lockdown controls the
situation as best as possible.”

What I have put down here is a small excerpt from the story in the newspaper The Chief also said that “The question was, ‘Is there already a handgun
there?’” said Noyes.

The paper also said that the Chief said ".22 calibers, such as those used in
handgun and shotgun rounds." I am sure that the Chief didn't say this the reporter did and probably knows nothing about either one.

Know I do not know about any of you but I am glad my child was not in that school as the Police can not be in every room in that school and therefore can't successfully protect all of those students that they have made prisoners in the same building with a possible whack job. I do not understand it and do not condone it. Maybe some of the Police officers on this form can explain it.

Bob Lawless
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