Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 10, 2014
A lockdown at a Buffalo elementary school last week took a surprise turn when it was discovered that the armed man on campus was none other than a known gun control advocate influential in helping to pass the state’s stringent new gun laws last year.
Dwayne Ferguson, the head of the Buffalo chapter of Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder (MAD DADS), pled not guilty Friday to two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, including having a loaded weapon on school grounds, according to NBC Buffalo. He was released on his own recognizance as a result of his community involvement and the fact that this was a first offense for the activist. Ferguson was ordered, however, to turn in all of his weapons and stay away from the school until the case is resolved.
More than a dozen cop cars, the local SWAT team, K9 units and the Erie County Sheriff’s Air One helicopter swarmed Harvey Austin Elementary School Thursday afternoon after police received an anonymous call around 4:15 p.m. that a man with a gun was seen inside the school. The building was promptly placed on lockdown and around 60 students present in the building at that time were herded into the cafeteria as police searched the school for a possible gunman. Nearby portions of two local streets were also closed until the sweeps concluded, and students ultimately weren’t released to their parents until 7:00 p.m. that evening.
While it remains unknown if the call was prompted by the 52-year-old Ferguson, local police do not believe Ferguson had any ill intent by bringing the weapon to the elementary school and had a valid carry permit for the weapon.
A spokesperson for Buffalo Public Schools told WIVB-TV that Ferguson is known to the district and was working for an after school provider when the call was made. MAD DADS, of which Ferguson is the head of the local chapter, is an organization focused on at-risk youths.
“I understand our parents’ concerns, and I express my deepest apologies for the anxiety they have experienced. I also apologize for the interruption of the students’ after school activities, while I commend them for following the instructions provided by our trained staff. Due to laws that are in place, and whether this was an intentional act or an oversight on the part of the individual in question, this is now a police matter,” Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown said in a statement released Thursday night, as reported by WIVB-TV.
When interviewed about the NY SAFE Act, the state’s new gun control law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, Ferguson told WIVB-TV that the laws didn’t go far enough to keep children safe. “Our kids are not buying assault weapons, they’re buying pistols and they’re buying them right out of community stores and back here in the school. So this is serious. It needs to go further than what it is,” he said last March.
According to The Daily Caller, Ferguson also belongs to Buffalo Peacemakers, a local anti-violence group that stands athwart gang-related crime and is known to patrol local malls and city streets to help stop gang violence.