NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYU student accused of selling air rifles from his dorm room has claimed he did not know the imitation assault weapons were illegal.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Wednesday, Bernard Goal, 20, stood at attention for an arraignment overnight with his head facing forward and his hands behind his back.
Public safety officers found a total of six airsoft weapons in Goal’s dorm room minutes later. The weapons resembled AK-47s and Colt carbine rifles, according to published reports.
“It turned out to be air rifles configured to look like assault rifles. There’s a local ordinance in New York City that makes it unlawful to possess an air rifle or an imitation weapon. So the student was arrested,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told WCBS 880 on Tuesday.
Back at Goal’s dorm Wednesday, his fellow students’ attention was all on him.
“It’s unbelievable,” said student Tony Lim. “I can’t believe that something like that was going on in my dorm.”
The Bernard Goal they know is genuine and smart, the students said.
“He’s a pretty good kid, and that he’s respectable,” said student Saint Jermaine Endeley.
But in court, prosecutors described Goal much differently. Goal, a Texas native, was allegedly making his dorm-made weapons and selling them for $500 each.
Students were surprised by the police raid on their dorm on Monday.
“There were police everywhere and NYU public safety, so obviously, we were concerned,” said Natalie Jensen, a student who lives on Goal’s floor.
The maintenance workers who saw the rifles in plain view on a bed had no comment Wednesday, but some students defended Goal.
“He was trying to make a living by selling stuff,” said one student named “John.” “I don’t think he had any malicious intent.”
Some students said it was simply a scheme to make money, and Goal’s defense attorney said he didn’t know the guns were illegal.
“Bernard is a bright and hardworking young student,” said attorney Ramsey Hinckle. “It’s worth noting that if he’d been outside of New York City or in his native Texas, the alleged conduct would not have been in violation of any administrative code.”
But that was little consolation for some of his dorm mates.
“People took this pretty seriously, so of course, cause for big concern,” Endeley said.
Goal was released on $2,000 bail. His attorney said he is staying with relatives in New York as he awaits the university’s decision as to whether he’ll be allowed back here to his dorm, and back to class.
Goal faces up to 30 days in prison or a $50 fine if he is convicted. He was set to appear in court again next month.
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