Students In UVA Gun Scare Cleared Of Charges

August 25, 2007

Four University of Virginia students arrested for brandishing a BB gun on campus days after the Virginia Tech killings will not be prosecuted.

Christopher Allen Smith, Caroline Choe, Eric Chau and Jerry Hsieh were cleared Friday of one count each of brandishing a firearm. The charge was dropped under an agreement with the county prosecutor.

"It's a relief," Chau said as he left Albemarle County General District Court.

April 23, the students were filming a movie as part of a class project for their Japanese 201 language class. The students used an unloaded and broken BB gun as a prop in one scene.

The scene was filmed one week after a student gunman killed 32 people, then himself, during a rampage April 16 at Tech's Blacksburg campus.

Two witnesses called U.Va. police to report a young gunman on campus, drawing heavily armed police officers to the scene.

Some students who witnessed the response had locked themselves in a classroom, one woman was treated at the hospital, and another student called his parents to say he might never see them again, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos.

In exchange for dropping the charges, the students had to perform 50 hours of community service, cover the costs of the police response and reimburse the frightened female student for her medical bills. In all, each student had to pay roughly $405.

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