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Man wields gun during on-campus talent show

A gun scare and two arrests resulted after a performer in Phi Beta Sigma’s Blu Pollo was booed offstage and asked to leave by some of his fraternity’s brothers.

University Police (UP) arrested 26-year-old David Joseph Thornton, Thursday evening after he pointed a loaded silver .357 magnum gun at 100 people outside of the Cooper Hall Auditorium — where the talent show was held, UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross said.

Thornton refused to leave the auditorium, causing Phi Beta Sigma to shorten their planned line up and delay the show’s after party. After exiting the show he pulled out the gun, Ross said.

UP received the disturbance call around 10:30 p.m., Ross said, and that by the time they arrived on scene, people were exiting the auditorium.

Ross said audience members gave UP a description of Thornton, who was located attempting to flee the parking lot in a white Dodge Magnum.

After UP apprehended Thornton at gunpoint, they found the gun underneath the driver’s seat.

Thornton was charged with possession of a firearm on school property, improper display of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and grand theft of a firearm the gun was reported stolen from somewhere in Brandon.

He was also charged with aggravated assault for pointing the gun at the crowd of students, Ross said.

UP also arrested a second man, 22-year-old Markus Raines, who was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, on charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Although there was a third passenger in the car, Ross said he was not arrested.

According to the charge reports, Thornton and Raines live at the same address.

Neither of them are affiliated with the University, Ross said.

Both men were taken to Hillsborough County jail, but were released the next morning. According to county records, Thornton was released on $7,000 bond and Raines on $500 bond.

The cases are now pending trial.

Hillsborough County records show that Thornton was previously arrested for driving without a valid license.

The records also state that Raines was previously arrested for burglary and grand theft.

Both men have been issued a trespass warning, Ross said, meaning that if either of them should come back to campus, they would be arrested.

Ross said if students ever find themselves in a similar situation, 911 should immediately be called.

Most emergency calls placed on campus are sent directly to UP, Ross said, because UP covers a smaller area than other agencies, so their response time is faster.

Assistant Vice President of Public Safety, Bruce Benson, said this type of violent crime is “extremely rare, but serious” for the University.

“Our campus is really safe,” he said. “When you look at the amount of violent crime, its negligible — it is almost nonexistent on campus.”

Benson said the University would conduct an “after-incident review” of the talent show today, a common occurrence in a situation like this.

Student groups are supposed to meet with Student Affairs and other campus agencies to plan any event beyond a normal meeting, Benson said. This standard procedure for some reason was not properly followed.

He said that part of the event planning process includes determining the level of security needed and assigning officers to cover an event accordingly.

UP was not notified about the talent show before the actual event, Benson said. It was an event, which should have been staffed with representatives from both UP and Student Affairs.

It was fortunate that police officers arrived quickly and no one was injured, he said.

An incident review meeting will be held by the University with representatives from UP, Student Affairs, and several other campus agencies. During the meeting, they will review the talent show and determine why the proper people had not been informed of Phi Beta Sigma’s show beforehand and how to avoid this type of situation in the future.