NEW YORK (AP) – A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of a student accused of unnerving St. John’s University by arriving on campus wearing a cartoon mask and carrying a loaded, one-shot rifle.

Omesh Hiraman, 22, will be held without bail while he undergoes the examination to determine if he is fit for trial. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail.

Hiraman was arraigned Friday on a weapon possession charge before Judge Deborah Stevens Modica via a video link between her Queens courtroom and a Manhattan hospital where he was admitted following his arrest.

The defendant, who was captured before he could harm anyone, “clearly is a very troubled young man,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Hiraman’s attorney, Anthony Collelouri, did not immediately return a telephone message.

The lawyer has said his client is schizophrenic and recent back surgery worsened his condition to the point where he became convinced he needed the rubber Fred Flintstone mask and gun to ward off the pain.

Hiraman bought the rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition legally last week for about $180 at a shopping mall in upstate Poughkeepsie before bringing it into the city, where he failed to get a permit to possess it, police said.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday that investigators were still seeking to obtain a warrant to search Hiraman’s computer for more clues to why he took the firearm to the university’s Queens campus around the time he was to attend a business class. They also were investigating a report that Hiraman was once arrested at Cornell University for disorderly conduct, Kelly added.

Students, including a police cadet, first reported seeing an armed man walking around campus at about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday. He was carrying a plastic bag with the gun barrel protruding and was wearing the mask, its mouth cut out, police said.

The cadet, Christopher Benson, started following Hiraman and joined in when unarmed campus security officers approached and tried to grab the gun minutes later. Benson and the officers subdued Hiraman after a brief struggle, he said.

Following an erroneous report about a second gunman, students at the Catholic school of about 20,000 were told to stay inside classrooms and buildings for about three hours during an extensive search of the campus. Classes were canceled Wednesday evening but resumed Thursday.

AP-ES-09-28-07 1543EDT


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