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College students could face expulsion for using gun to fend off intruder

SPOKANE, Wash. (CNN) -- Two Gonzaga University students could be suspended or even expelled after using a handgun to defend themselves from an intruder in their university-owned apartment, an act which the university says violates the school's weapons policy.

Gonzaga University, a private, four-year university in Spokane, Washington, says the students violated the school's weapons policy by having firearms in their apartment, which is in a complex near the campus.

On the night of October 24, students Erik Fagan and Daniel McIntosh were in their apartment when there was a knock on the door. Fagan told CNN affiliate KXLY in Spokane that he opened the door and a stranger, who said he'd just gotten out of jail, asked for $15. Fagan told KXLY he offered the man a blanket and a can of food, but "didn't feel comfortable" giving the man money because he was a stranger.

"My gut instinct was telling me I wasn't going to be able to get that door closed before he came through," Fagan told KXLY.

As the man started coming through the door, Fagan said, he yelled for his roommate, Daniel McIntosh.

McIntosh said he came to the door with his pistol drawn, and the students said the man turned and ran away.

Because the apartments are owned by Gonzaga, both police and campus security responded when Fagan and McIntosh called 911.

According to the Gonzaga's Executive Vice President Earl Martin, all university housing is patrolled at regular intervals by campus security, though this particular apartment complex isn't gated and secured key cards or codes aren't required for entrance.

A short while after the incident, police captured the man, whom they identified as a six-time convicted felon.

At about 2 a.m., campus security officers returned to Fagan and McIntosh's apartment and confiscated a pistol and a shotgun from the apartment.

Dean Chuang, attorney for Fagan and McIntosh, said the shotgun is owned by Fagan, who uses it to hunt periodically, and it wasn't used in the incident.

He added that the pistol that was used in the incident belonged to McIntosh, and was a gift to him from his grandfather several years ago. McIntosh has a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun, Chuang said. In Washington state, gun owners are not required to register their weapons.

In a disciplinary board hearing on Friday, the board, made up of three faculty members and two students, found Fagan and McIntosh guilty of two infractions -- possessing weapons on school grounds and putting others in danger by the use of weapons, according to Chuang.

Chuang told CNN the students expect to hear later this week what disciplinary action will be taken by the board. Fagan and McIntosh both face suspension or expulsion. Both are seniors and have exemplary records, Chuang said.
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Meantime, Fagan and McIntosh have asked university security to return their firearms, but that hasn't yet happened.

According to Chuang, one of the students had never lived in campus housing and was unaware of the school's weapons policy. The other, he said, was aware of the policy but didn't think it applied to him because the apartment isn't on campus.

"They had the right to defend themselves and others, regardless of what the policy says," Chuang told CNN.

Though the university couldn't talk about specifics of this case due to privacy laws, Martin said, "I'm not aware of other instances like this in particular."

The policy, which is on the university's official website, states that weapons, which includes firearms, are prohibited "at any location on campus, or within University residences."

In a statement released Saturday by university President Thayne McCulloh, there have been calls for a re-examination of the university's policies relating to firearms. McCulloh said in the release he believes this is an opportunity for the university community to objectively re-examine the policy and "openly debate perspectives and contextual issues." McCulloh's statement said he has asked the Vice President for Student Development to work with several campus organizations to "facilitate a campus dialogue focused on this issue."

Meantime, he added, the current student handbook and code of conduct remain in effect.

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CNN's Rick Martin and Jackie Castillo contributed to this story

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