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Former Blue Ridge Community and Technical College student charged in gun case apologizes

Joshua Lee Beck was ordered to pay a $50 fine and court costs as part of a plea agreement and two misdemeanor counts of possession of firearms were dismissed

July 24, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A former Blue Ridge Community and Technical College student accused of repeatedly violating the school’s campus ban on firearms in 2011 pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor count of disturbance of a school process.

Joshua Lee Beck, 28, of Martinsburg, apologized for the disturbance he caused on the college’s campuses after a plea agreement was filed with presiding Magistrate Charles C. Cole Sr. in Berkeley County Magistrate Court Wednesday morning.

Beck was ordered to pay a $50 fine and court costs as part of the plea agreement and two misdemeanor counts of possession of firearms were dismissed.

In a prepared statement, Beck apologized, sayinh it was never his intention to cause a disturbance and added that he was looking forward to moving ahead with his life.

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Leslie See, vice president of enrollment management for the college, said Wednesday in a statement that the school was pleased that the case was resolved. The college agreed with the plea offer, See said.

“We have improved our signage of restricting weapons/firearms on campus and will continue to enforce our policy,” See said when contacted about the resolution of the case.

Blue Ridge CTC officials told police that Beck was advised in August 2011 about the campus ban on firearms outlined in the school’s handbook, but continued to violate the school’s policy, according to a complaint filed against him in magistrate court.

A Blue Ridge CTC student told police that a security guard at the college forced Beck to remove a weapon in his possession from campus, but said the defendant returned with the firearm the following day when they had class together.

The student said Beck continued to carry a weapon and “even gave a class presentation on concealed weapons while having the weapon in class,” Berkeley County Sheriff’s Lt. R.L. Gardner said in a complaint filed against Beck.

On Aug. 1, 2011, Beck allegedly told a Blue Ridge CTC instructor that the college’s head of security gave him permission to carry the weapon on campus after he was told to remove it from the school’s technical center at 5550 Winchester Ave., according to court documents.

The security officer later told police he never gave Beck such permission and that he told the defendant that carrying a weapon onto campus is a violation of the student handbook.

Gardner later determined that Beck has a concealed-weapons permit, the documents said.

In addition to Gardner’s complaint, Martinsburg Police Patrol Officer William Parks said in a separate complaint that Beck left a voice-mail message with an administrator at the college’s now former campus at 400 W. Stephen St. that indicates he carried a gun to school on several occasions.

Beck was subsequently expelled from the college, See said earlier.

The resolution of the case was delayed in large part by the death last summer of Beck’s then-attorney, James M. Mullins Jr.

Court officials said in January 2013 that they only recently had learned that Mullins, of Grundy, Va., had died. Martinsburg attorney Bill Powell replaced Mullins as Beck’s lawyer late last year.

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