An ardent supporter of New York’s SAFE Act gun control law was arrested late last week after allegedly violating one of the sacred tenets of gun control: Never let a person with a gun come anywhere near a school campus.
Dwayne Ferguson of Buffalo, N.Y., known locally as Buffalo chapter head of MAD DADS (Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder) and a vocal supporter of even stricter gun control laws than those found in the State’s 2013 SAFE Act, was arrested Thursday and charged with second degree criminal possession of a weapon, carrying a loaded firearm on school property and obstruction of governmental administration, according to WIVB-TV in Buffalo.
Ferguson allegedly brought his own loaded .38-caliber handgun into the school, where he teaches an after-school program through a community-based provider affiliated with the school district. He is not a district employee. He has a permit for the weapon.
The gun’s alleged presence prompted an anonymous 911 call around 4:15 p.m., locking down Harvey Austin Elementary School and about 60 students who were attended after-school programs. A K-9 and SWAT sweep lasted for three hours before students were released to their parents.
More than a dozen cop cars, the SWAT team, K9 units and the Erie County Sheriff’s Air One helicopter swarmed Harvey Austin Elementary School in Buffalo on Thursday after reports of a man with a gun near the school or on the grounds. Dwayne Ferguson, head of the Buffalo chapter of MAD DADS, was taken into custody. He will be arraigned Friday.
An anonymous call came into 911 around 4:15 p.m. that a man with a gun was seen inside the Sycamore Street school. The building was placed in lockdown and around 60 students who were in the building for after school programs were herded into the cafeteria as officers from every district in the city went room-to-room in twos and threes looking for a possible gunman. A portion of Sycamore Street and Walden Avenue were closed and parents were kept from the scene until a preliminary sweep of the school was complete.
In the preliminary sweep, no gunman was found, and school buses arrived at the school around 5:30 p.m. to take the children to School 91. But it took until at least 7 p.m. before the students began to arrive to be released to their parents.
A school spokeswoman says Ferguson is known to the district and was working for an after school provider. Ferguson is the head of the Buffalo chapter and sits on the National Board of Directors of MAD DADS, an organization that aims to “promote and demonstrate positive images of fathers engaging in community development and protecting youth and families.”
At a rally for the SAFE Act in March of 2013, Ferguson had told the same television station he felt the new gun control laws weren’t strict enough.
Ferguson, who has no criminal record, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday. The presiding judge ordered him to surrender his weapons and stay away from the campus until his case had been disposed. Although he said he was not aware of a long-standing State law making public schools “gun-free” zones, he apologized Friday to parents “for whatever they went through.”