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FBI takes UVA-Wise student into custody over campus gunman hoax

January 28th, 2013 1:35 pm by Steve Igo

FBI takes UVA-Wise student into custody over campus gunman hoax

Update: 4 p.m.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation took Bryant Alexander Hairston into custody on Monday from the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield to appear before a federal magistrate in Abingdon, Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins said.


Hairston was charged with filing a false police report by Wise County authorities last week after calling 911 to report a man wielding a handgun on the UVa-Wise campus. The call prompted a lockdown of the campus and attracted a swarm of police officers from a number of area law enforcement agencies to the college.


After police and Wise County Sheriff's deputies searched the college's buildings and grounds for about two hours, Hairston then admitted his call was a hoax. He allegedly told local law enforcement he was subject to an assault and battery warrant brought by a female student at the college and made up the gunman story to make himself out to be a hero.


As described in the federal criminal complaint now before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, on the evening of the gun hoax incident Hairston told local and Virginia State Police investigators that "in Hairston's mind" the earlier assault charge had no validity and "that his way of showing people that he was a good person and not capable of this assault was to phone in this (false) incident and look as if he was saving lives.


"Hairston was looking to obtain some form of hero status from this incident to prove that the earlier warrant was not accurate about his character."


The federal complaint notes Hairston has been charged with "knowingly and willfully making a materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement in any matter within" the jurisdiction of the federal government in violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1001(a)(2).


Hairston had been held in the regional jail without bond since the night of the incident, but had been scheduled for a bond hearing in Wise County Circuit Court on Friday. However, courts were closed on Friday due to winter weather and the bond hearing was rescheduled for Monday.


Monday's bond hearing didn't happen either, Elkins said, after the FBI showed up.


"The FBI picked him up this morning, so we dropped our charge," Elkins said, because federal authorities have now taken over jurisdiction.


Hairston, of Martinsville, Va. was a sophomore psychology major at the college. After his initial arrest, UVa-Wise banned him from campus pending the outcome of legal charges resulting from last week's gun scare.


U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia Public Affairs Specialist Brian McGinn declined to comment on federal involvement in Hairston's case, citing the fact he has not been indicted.


McGinn said more information would be made available from federal authorities if any indictments are returned.


The FBI is being assisted in its investigation by the Virginia State Police, the Wise Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Pound Police Department, the Coeburn Police Department and the UVA-Wise Police Department.


Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer will prosecute the case for the United States.


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ABINDGON -- A University of Virginia at Wise student who allegedly called authorities last week and lied about seeing an armed man on campus was arrested Monday after being charged in a federal criminal complaint.


Bryant Alexander Hairston, 20, of Martinsville, Va., was charged today with one count of knowingly making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations.


According to the federal complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Hairston called 911 on January 23 and reported seeing a man on campus with a gun and wearing a face mask.


He reportedly went on to describe the outfit the man was wearing, his location on the campus and that he was holding a pistol.


As a result of those statements, the UVA-Wise campus was placed on lock- down status.


The complaint also states that Hairston later admitted to lying about the information he gave to 911.


The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Virginia State Police, the Town of Wise Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Pound Police Department, the Coeburn Police Department and the UVA Wise Police Department.


Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer will prosecute the case for the United States.

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