MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Blue Ridge Community and Technical College canceled classes Thursday afternoon and remained closed Friday after a 26-year-old student was arrested for allegedly bringing a concealed firearm into the school's technical center, officials said.
Joshua Lee Beck of 674 Teal Road, Martinsburg, was charged with one felony count of carrying a deadly weapon onto the grounds of a college campus, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court documents.
Blue Ridge CTC announced it would reopen Monday, attributing the closure on its website to "a safety concern."
"At no time was there any active threat," the college said Friday evening in a statement explaining the reason for the abrupt closure at 5 p.m. Thursday. "This week there were incidents that indicated the strong need for administration to review its current security practices."
The college said it was not aware of anyone making a direct threat to the school's community, but felt it was best to close for the remainder of the week while a campus security assessment was being completed.
School officials did not identify Beck, but said they are following the code-of-conduct hearing protocol in the firearm incident.
A former Martinsburg Correctional Center officer, Beck was arraigned Thursday by Magistrate Joan V. Bragg. He was released from custody on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, Berkeley County Sheriff's Lt. R.L. Gardner responded to the college's technical center at 5550 Winchester Ave., south of Martinsburg to investigate allegations that Beck had carried a firearm onto the campus several times, according to court documents.
A college official told Gardner that Beck had been warned not to bring the firearm on campus, but he had done so again on Tuesday, the documents said.
Another college staff member said that Beck was in class when she noticed "a large bulge" beneath his shirt near his waistband on his back and, fearing it was a firearm, reported it to the school's student services director, the documents said.
Beck told the student services director that he did have a gun "because it's my job," the documents said.
Gardner later determined that Beck does have a concealed weapons permit, the documents said.
Beck told police that that he was advised Tuesday for the first time not to carry a firearm on school property and that he would no longer carry the weapon onto campus, the documents said.
While the college canceled classes and closed offices on the first floor of Berkeley County's administration building at 400 W. Stephen St., county officials decided to maintain regular hours Friday on the floors above the space it leases to Blue Ridge CTC.
"At this time, there does not appear to be reason for alarm," Deputy County Administrator Alan J. Davis said in an email sent Friday to county employees notifying them of the situation.
No threats were made against Berkeley County, according to Davis, who said in the email that there would be an increased presence of police and court security in what is known as the Dunn Building.
After the executive staff of Blue Ridge CTC met Friday, college officials decided that would enhance security communication links between its technical center and the Stephen Street campus in Martinsburg, as well as increase security personnel on both campuses.
An outside agency will be hired to complete a more in-depth security audit, and a security assessment will be conducted with local law-enforcement agencies, college officials said.
The college will also increase training of security practices for staff, faculty and students.
"As Blue Ridge Community and Technical College administration believes that security is a main concern for every student, staff and faculty, the Executive Staff chose to close for the remainder of the week," the college said.