This article was updated on Tuesday, March 17 with additional details from Moorpark College Campus Police regarding the incident.
On Monday, March 16, Moorpark College Campus Police responded to an incident involving an adult and two minors who had possession of what appeared to be a gun.
Officers on the scene searched the individuals and identified the item to be an airsoft gun. No violent weapons were found on the subjects and no injuries resulted from the altercation.
According to Moorpark College Campus Police Lieutenant Andy Huisenga, the incident took place at approximately 4:20 p.m. when a staff member in the Library Learning Resources building called campus police to report the subjects.
The staff member noticed three subjects walking south past the LLR towards the Academic Center, when one person took what appeared to be a black handgun out of his backpack, showed it to his friends a few times and returned it to his backpack as they continued to walk down the hill.
The staff member immediately called campus police where officer Ryan Babcock took the call and began what is described as tactical procedure when dealing with reports of an individual with a gun.
Babcock, alone, intercepted the three individuals near the parking structure where the officer held them at gunpoint due to the severity of the report. It was at that point where Babcock called for additional units from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and eight officers responded with lights and sirens to the scene.
With additional help on the scene, the officers were able to conduct a ‘high risk stop’ where the individuals were instructed to spread out, lay face down onto the concrete, and a handcuff team of two to three officers approached each subject while Babcock held them at gunpoint.
Once the subjects were safely detained, officers were able to investigate the situation to find that the gun in question was an airsoft gun with a black tip, unlike typical airsoft guns that have a bright orange tip.
“Even from two feet away you would not be able to tell that that was a fake gun until you put it in your hand and feel how light it was,” Huisenga remarked.
The subjects detained included an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old. The 18-year-old is a current student of Moorpark College while the other two individuals are not. The airsoft gun belonged to the 17-year-old. Following the investigation, all three individuals were cleared and released from the scene.
Huisenga shared that on K-12 campuses, it is against the law to have an airsoft gun on campus, however on junior college and university campuses, possession of an airsoft gun is not against the law as long as it is not being brandished or pointed towards people to incite harm.
Additionally, the Moorpark College Student Code of Conduct prohibits the possession of imitation weapons on campus. However, since the 17-year-old individual is not a Moorpark College student, they can not be held liable to those rules and will not face retribution.
The incident was first brought to the attention of the public by the unofficial social media “Moorpark Scanner” that posts police radio communication online.
Interim president Julius Sokenu sent a campus wide email at around 6 p.m. on March 16, alerting Moorpark College students and staff of the incident.
“I wish to express my thanks to the individuals who first reported this incident and to our law enforcement officials for their quick response,” Sokenu concluded in his email.
As stated by Sokenu in the email, the individual’s behavior was a violation of the Moorpark College Student Code of Conduct.
Item two of the Moorpark College Student Code of Conduct states: “Possession, sale or otherwise furnishing a weapon, including but not limited to, any actual or facsimile of a firearm, knife, explosive or other dangerous object, or any item used to threaten bodily harm without written permission from a district employee, with concurrence of the College President or designee.”
Sokenu emphasized that this includes imitation weapons, and urged students and faculty to not bring anything that could be mistaken for a weapon on campus.
To ensure future safety on campus, Huisenga lauded the staff member who reported the incident initially.
“I give her tons of credit for taking action right away, not waiting, picking up the phone and calling the police department. She did a great job,” Huisenga expressed. “And that’s what we need from all of us in our community to help keep each other safe, is if we see something that’s wrong, take decisive action and call the police department.”