A janitor at the University of Montana School of Law who was allegedly keeping a knife and two pistols in a janitorial closet there accidentally shot himself in the foot Wednesday night while handling one of the guns.
Law School Associate Dean Greg Munro notified students of the incident in an email sent Thursday morning.
The janitor, Josiah Pratt, was handling one of the pistols when he shot himself in the foot at the Law School, Munro’s email said.
Peggy Kuhr, UM vice president of integrated communications, said the man has been charged with disorderly conduct by the UM Office of Public Safety and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of further investigation into the incident.
Because it is a personnel issue, Kuhr would not confirm details of the incident or the name or position of the employee involved.
“There are privacy considerations at this point,” Kuhr said.
The ongoing investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Office of Public Safety. Any further action against the employee will be determined when the investigation is concluded, Kuhr said.
In his email to students, Munro said campus police officers responded to the incident and, after learning the facts, determined the incident posed no further risk “that would make warnings to others necessary and that such warnings would create unnecessary fear.”
Munro’s email also told students that Pratt had a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol, a .357 caliber pistol, and a knife in one of the janitors’ closets.
In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, Munro said the school was working with UM Office of Public Safety officials to gather more details about the incident.
Students often are in the building at night studying, especially near the end of the semester, but no one witnessed the incident, he said.
The building is secure at night and students must enter with swipe cards, he said.
One student inquired Thursday about why an alert wasn’t sent out about the incident, Munro said.
“One (student) was concerned, but the police followed exact protocol,” and they had Pratt detained quickly, Munro said.
Office of Public Safety Chief Gary Taylor referred calls for more information about the incident to Kuhr.
Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh said city police had been asked to assist in the case by taking a statement from the janitor, but had not been asked to take over the investigation.
UM policy restricts the possession and use of firearms on its campuses. Individuals authorized to carry firearms without prior approval from the president or public safety director include peace officers and federal authorities who are empowered by federal law to be armed, the policy says.
The policy also states that students living in residence halls or residence life facilities must register any firearm with the Office of Residence Life and follow mandatory requirements for possession.