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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

David Light:
An Interesting Mix

'A Calhoun College junior was arrested Monday and suspended from the University after he allegedly fired a handgun inside the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

David Light ’09, 21, was charged with several weapons-related crimes, and police found a large cache of weapons in his room at the fraternity house at 36 Lynwood Place, according to a University statement. Law enforcement officials subsequently confiscated two illegal assault rifles and nine other firearms from Light’s residence, along with ammunition and a supply of chemicals, the University said.

Light, a resident of Woodland Park, Colorado, was charged with two counts of illegal possession of assault rifles, unlawful discharge of a firearm, reckless endangerment in the first degree, threatening in the second degree and breach of peace in the second degree.

After a party on Friday, Light was seen at the fraternity with one of his handguns and later fired two rounds into a ceiling at the fraternity, according to an arrest warrant, a television report said Tuesday. A visitor at Beta asked him to stop, but Light told him he was only firing blanks, and added, when pressed, “Why don’t I point it at your head to find out?”

The visitor then notified police, who got a search warrant for Light’s third-floor room in Beta on Monday night. There had been no injuries in the incident at Friday's party.

Two students who were at Beta during the raid said about six law enforcement officials, one in body armor, entered the fraternity at around 10:30 p.m. to conduct a search and arrest Light. Police ordered everyone to stay put, said Rachel Oppenheimer, a rising sophomore at Kenyon College who is staying in New Haven this summer.

Forty-five minutes later, police said they had found bomb-making materials and evacuated the house, she said.

Another student, who had stayed at the house for a few days before moving into University housing, said he once saw Light carrying two large firearms up the stairs inside the house, and another time saw a “serious-looking” high-powered rifle at the fraternity, which he thought was suspicious.

“Last night, it fell into place,” he said. “I felt foolish that I didn’t tell someone.”

Around Yale, Light was widely known as a gun enthusiast, and his large gun collection was not something he tried to keep hidden, students said. On his Facebook profile, which was removed Tuesday afternoon, Light listed pyrotechnics, weaponry and firearms among his interests.

“It wasn’t very much of a secret at all,” said David Koppstein ’08, who took an advanced biology course with Light. “He talked about it. I wasn’t sure about the details, which guns he had specifically, but he just seemed to enjoy that in general.”

A local television report showed photographs of Light, reportedly from his MySpace page, posing with guns. Light described himself on his Facebook profile as a member of the New Haven Sportsman’s Club, a gun range in Guilford, and a member of the club confirmed that Light was a regular there. The student who lived in Beta said he saw Light with a target, the type that would be used at a rifle range.

The club member, who declined to give his name, said Light was a bright student whose interest in guns was not a threat to anyone.

"He's a perfectly normal person,” he said. “He's not a crazy guy. To be honest … things always get blown out of proportion when it comes to arrests with firearms."

Light is a member of Beta and is president of Chabad at Yale ["An environment where being Jewish is fun," it says on the website.], a Jewish student group. [Under "Student Leadership" on the website, things are suspiciously empty.] A biology major, Light listed himself on Facebook as a member of the Yale Class of 2008, though the University identifies him as a rising junior.

Classmates described Light as a top-notch student, and some suggested his interest in the sciences might explain the chemicals that were found in his residence. He is said to have taken Yale’s Rain Forest Expedition and Laboratory course and may have traveled to Peru this spring as part of that class.

According to his Facebook page, Light works for Guilford-based RainDance Technologies, a nanotechnology start-up, researching market opportunities and recruiting investors. In 2005, Light worked in the Center for High Technology Materials at the University of New Mexico, focusing on microchip research.

Officials at RainDance could not be reached late Tuesday, nor could the New Mexico professor who supervised Light’s research.

The New Haven Register reported Tuesday on its Web site that the weapons seized from Light’s residence included a .50-caliber rifle, AR-15 assault weapon, a Russian M-91 infantry rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, various pistols and bomb-making materials, including a large bottle of mercury. Light reportedly did not have permits for any of his weapons.

The Colt AR-15, considered an assault rifle by state statue, is illegal to own by Connecticut law. Possession of an assault weapon is a Class D felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison, unless it is a first-time offense and the weapon was legally acquired before the state’s assault weapons ban went into effect in 1993. It was not immediately clear which weapon resulted in the second count of illegal possession of an assault rifle.

Light was known not just as a gun enthusiast but as a collector as well, according to students. The M-91 infantry rifle, for instance, was last produced during World War I and is considered a collectible, likely worth hundreds of dollars...'

--yale daily news---