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EXCLUSIVE: Rio Hondo College Dean Left Loaded Handgun in Campus Bathroom, Evidence Shows Attempted Cover Up by School Officials

Picture of the handgun left in the bathroom.

 

BY BRIAN HEWS
Tuesday June 11, 2018 6:45 p.m.

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that a loaded handgun was found, left unattended in the restroom of the Campus Inn building at Rio Hondo Community College (RHCC) on May 31, with evidence showing that college officials attempted to cover up the incident while failing, up to this point, to take any disciplinary actions.

HMG-CN confirmed with Pico Rivera Sheriff’s today that they “are waiting for word from RHCC officials on direction.”

The incident occurred when RHCC Dean of Research and Planning Dr. Howard Kummerman, who is also the head of the Campus Safety Committee, brought the handgun on campus and somehow left it on top of a magazine in a stall inside the campus bathroom.

Sources tell HMG-CN that Kummerman said he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon but that he “never produced the permit.”

A research assistant entered the bathroom, saw the gun, wisely left it in the bathroom, and immediately told Kummerman’s secretary Rebecca Reyes.

Word of the gun incident quickly circulated inside the building and several research assistants later wrote in anonymous statements that they “sheltered in place,” not knowing if another gun or gunman was in the building.

Reyes, rather than calling the police, calmly informed Kummerman, who retrieved the loaded Smith and Wesson 9 MM M&P3 handgun and went back to his office.

The handgun holds eight bullets; one in the chamber and seven in the clip.

 

 

Smith and Wesson 9 MM M&P3 handgun.

 

 

Kummerman then took the highly questionable step of calling each research assistant individually into his office to “talk about the incident.”

The frightened students later wrote that they did not know if Kummerman still had the gun in his possession.

Each assistant said that Kummerman “looked upset” and that they “felt anxious and fearful” both during and after the meeting.

Kummerman strongly indicated to the students that he wanted to “keep this in the family.”

The next day on June 1, Kummerman held another “rah-rah” staff meeting trying to calm the students down, once again requesting to “keep it in the family.”

He told the students that RHCC President-Superintendent Teresa Dreyfuss “was aware I was carrying a gun,” and said that both Dreyfuss and the head of Human Resources Loy Nashua were aware of the incident.

But Pico Rivera Sheriff’s were yet to be notified.

Later that day, the students met with California School Employees Association Chapter President Sandra Rivera who told them to report the incident to the Sheriff’s. The two students immediately drove to the Sheriff’s and filed the report dated June 1.

But school officials tried to keep the issue quiet for three days, and the frightened students continued to work for Kummerman until it became unbearable, at which time they followed up with the Sheriff’s.

The date was June 4, five days after the incident, and RHCC officials had yet to take action on the frightening incident.

The students indicated in their statements that the Pico Rivera Sheriff’s said they were “waiting on Nashua for direction to pursue criminal charges or let administration handle the situation.”

On June 5, word apparently reached both Dreyfuss and Nashua that the situation was about to explode, so they called a meeting with some of the students.

During the tense meeting, Dreyfuss unequivocally stated she knew about the incident and, contrary to Kummerman’s statement in staff meetings, did not give Kummerman permission to carry the gun.

“He (Kummerman) misunderstood me,” said Dreyfuss.

Dreyfuss was explaining the situation when Nashua interrupted her indicating the investigation is a personnel matter and he has informed (CSEA President Sandra) Rivera asking, “what more do you want.”

When contacted, RHCC Board President Madeline Shapiro told HMG-CN, “I really can’t speak about it because it is a personnel matter, but I did meet with people involved in the incident and to the best of my knowledge the college is following protocol to keep everyone safe on campus.”

She also indicated that President Dreyfuss told her about the incident, “the very next day.”

Under the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Board President (Madeline Shapiro) cannot contact more than one Board Member when an incident such as this occurs. Shapiro is required to call President-Superintendent Dreyfuss who can legally inform all Board Members.

But according to a letter obtained by HMG-CN, Dreyfuss did not inform at least one Board Member of the incident.

On June 11, RHCC Board Member Gary Mendez blasted Schapiro and Dreyfuss asking why he was not contacted about the incident.

“We get emails when water lines break on campus,” Mendez told HMG-CN, “somehow I don’t get an email or phone all about a gun on campus? I do not know anything about this incident, it’s shocking.”

Mendez wrote, “To this day and time I have not been officially notified of such incident by you, the Board President, or the college Superintendent President. In my nineteen years of service, it has been a standard practice to notify the governing board immediately when an emergency or incident occurs involving the safety of students, staff, faculty, the administration and members of the public. Why have I not been notified? Why has the board not been notified?”

“This incident warrants an immediate special/emergency meeting. Why has this not occurred? As officials on the Board of Trustees, we have a right to know when a loaded gun is found on campus, immediately.”

HMG-CN has learned that a Board meeting has been called for tomorrow, June 12, to address the issue.

Mendez continued, “what is the status of affected employees? Has the well-being of employees been taken care of? If so, how?” Have the appropriate law enforcement agency been notified by the district? If so, when and what is the status? Is law enforcement conducting an investigation? Is Rio Hondo Community College District conducting an official investigation? If so, what is the status?”

Mendez finished, “this is a very serious issue concerning the safety of students, staff, faculty, the administration and the public we are elected to serve, I demand you contact me.”

HMG-CN left a message on President Dreyfuss’ voice mail, only to receive a response from her assistant inviting HMG-CN to tomorrow night’s Board meeting.

“We can give you a parking permit,” Ms. Ruthie Flores said in a voicemail, “we will be discussing this incident in closed session and during public comment.”

 

 

 

 

  • The Community says:

    If Rio Hondo Officials are willing to cover-up a gun incident, I wonder how many corruption incidents they’ve also covered up.

    • Concerned voter says:

      OMG- SO typical of the president, Teresa Dreyfuss. She has NO business “acting” as the President of the College, she is incompetent and does not know how to handle anything out of the ordinary. I hope the Board of Trustees gets this one right and gets rid of her once and for all. She has NO skills to run a college and relies on other incompetent administrators to help her when she actually needs to make a decision.
      The Board of Trustees needs to take a good hard look at the people running the institution- the upper administration needs to go! This incident should be the catalyst for such change! If the Board of Trustees does not make the change, the voters will!

  • Guest2 says:

    There are many errors with this article! There were no students involved and there was no shelter in place as there was no threat. This article is providing false information to the public which makes matters worse.

    • Dr. Rhodes says:

      Why have the faculty and staff not been provided the details? Why were we not informed about the Board meeting that took place last night? Why are we left to read articles online when we should be kept in the loop by our leadership? The culture of this school is unethical.

    • Communityknows says:

      It’s my understanding he took over 30 minutes to alert his staff who then thought there could be an incident and locked up their office. What an asshole to not tell them for that amount of time.

  • Guest 3 says:

    This is such sloppy journalism. Half the things stated in this article are factually inaccurate. No students were involved. The gun was mistakenly left in a staff only bathroom. This was a locked STAFF bathroom to which only a handful of staff members have access. Please check your sources before you spread gossip and lies and create a public panic.

    • Editor says:

      Editor’s note: Three students gave HMG-CN written statements on what occurred that day. HMG-CN chose not to name them in the article.

      • Guest 3 says:

        There were no students present at the time of the incident. No students met with the President. Those who filed the police report were staff members. You decline to name your sources because you don’t have any. When and if the accurate details of this incident come out, I can’t wait for you to publish a retraction.

        For anyone who cares, Google “Brian Hews” and look at all of the lawsuits and fines he has incurred due to defamation, etc. Los Cerritos Community News is a throw away rag without much credibility. Unethical journalism at its finest.

        • OMG says:

          Hater! Hews WON the bogus defamation suit filed by Central Basin water Leticia Vazquez..you forgot to point that out HATER. So who is unethical now? Hews has also won 12 press club awards, 2 more nominations this year… is this Randy Economy the noted butt pirate who has no job and who hates Hews?

        • EDITOR’S NOTE:
          From a RHCC Board member at last night’s meeting: Officially, Howard Kummerman was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and due process procedure. Employees spoke during open comments expressing their fear of Kummerman and the district mishandling of the incident. Failure to notify the campus community and the public was a big concern. At a previous public meeting with employees, board president Shapiro admitted that she failed to cause the notification to the board and failed to call a special emergency meeting. She said, “I didn’t think not was serious enough ” and ” I thought it was being handled”. The crowd hissed and booed… the crowd of employees hissed and booed also.

    • Dr. Rhodes says:

      Why have the faculty and staff not been provided the details? Why were we not informed about the Board meeting that took place last night? Why are we left to read articles online when we should be kept in the loop by our leadership? The culture of this school is unethical.

      • Rio Hondo Classified member says:

        Classified were made aware by CSEA. You really need to ask those questions of your faculty leadership. They were aware of this.

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

    • Roadrunner1 says:

      Yes, there are some errors in the article. However those errors dont shroud the overall emphasis behind the story. Bottom line is that an employee went against district and state policies by bringing a concealed firearm onto campus. The employee also misplaced that weapon in a school restroom which students can INDEED also gain access too (maybe you should check your facts as well before responding). This article highlights key instances in which the college administration failed to act accordingly. Even with those errors, this message reads loud and clear.

  • Staff says:

    There were no students. Like others pointed out, this article has too many errors and the editor has received non-factual information.

    • EDITOR’S NOTE:
      From a RHCC Board member at last night’s meeting: Officially, Howard Kummerman was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and due process procedure. Employees spoke during open comments expressing their fear of Kummerman and the district mishandling of the incident. Failure to notify the campus community and the public was a big concern. At a previous public meeting with employees, board president Shapiro admitted that she failed to cause the notification to the board and failed to call a special emergency meeting. She said, “I didn’t think not was serious enough ” and ” I thought it was being handled”. The crowd hissed and booed… the crowd of employees hissed and booed also.

  • Guest2 says:

    I really do not understand how you have won awards for your journalism. A middle-schooler can write a better blog post than you. I hope that a suit comes down on your for putting out BS information to the public.

    • EDITOR’S NOTE:
      From a RHCC Board member at last night’s meeting: Officially, Howard Kummerman was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and due process procedure. Employees spoke during open comments expressing their fear of Kummerman and the district mishandling of the incident. Failure to notify the campus community and the public was a big concern. At a previous public meeting with employees, board president Shapiro admitted that she failed to cause the notification to the board and failed to call a special emergency meeting. She said, “I didn’t think not was serious enough ” and ” I thought it was being handled”. The crowd hissed and booed… the crowd of employees hissed and booed also.

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

    • Dr. Rhodes says:

      In order to throw readers off, Internet trolls attempt to discredit the author. However, this author has written the article with integrity.

  • Concerned Voter says:

    “Howard Kummerman, is the head of the Campus Safety Committee and he brought the handgun on campus and somehow left it on top of a magazine in a stall inside the campus bathroom,” SO What! mistakes happen.
    It appears to be no cover up. The staff were not prepared to handle such a situation. I am sure they know now what to do with a found gun.
    If Mr Kummerman has a conceal carry permit, case closed.
    RHCC should be happy Mr Kummerman is protecting the campus in a Barney Fife kind of way

    • Dr. Rhodes says:

      “So what? Mistakes happen?”-This comment is very scary. Yes, mistakes do happen and that is how people lose their lives. Administrators like Kummerman think that they are above the law and that rules do not apply to them. I have pasted Rio’s Board Policy 3530 regarding Weapons on Campus. “Firearms or other weapons shall be prohibited on any college or district center or in any facility of the District except for activities conducted under the direction of district officials or as authorized by an official law enforcement agency. II. Source / Reference:
      Penal Code Section 626.9 and 626.10”
      Kummerman was not under the direction of any district official nor was he authorized by any law enforcement agency. He does not have a CCW. He could not produce it when it was requested. By the way, Barney Fife was a special kind of idiot. Barney is not a person that is competent enough to carry a gun on campus.

      • Patricia says:

        AGREED! Scenario: Active Shooter on campus. Only person with a permit to carry is this said individual. Wouldn’t you all have changed your opinions if this man used his weapon to protect? I’m so sick of folks crying “I was scared” get over it! He would have protected these folks. Restroom mistake yes. Would have saved a life. Absolutely.

        • David Stephen Siegrist says:

          And if a student or ???? had found the gun?
          In Muscoy recently, a four-year-old child found his grandfather’s misplaced gun and milked his two-year-old little brother. NOBODY SHOULD HAVE A GUN AND MISPLACE IT!!!! NOBODY!!!

          As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio, and as my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming.

      • Guest says:

        It is obvious to everyone except you, that the statement was sarcastic in tone.

    • Rio Hondo Classified member says:

      Seriously. How about if I come over and leave a loaded weapon on the toilet at your work and allow ANYONE to come in and pick it up and shoot you. The fact that you even say something so ridiculous makes me question your intellect.
      As for the staff not knowing what to do, they followed proper campus protocol which is to notify your supervisor. In this instance the supervisor was Mr. Kummerman. And you say no cover up? The response time of any information getting out was ridiculous (1 week), the fact that the person who perpetrated the incident was allowed to have his gun back and THEN interviewed the staff to try and get them not to report it implies that people where trying to cover their respective asses. (I know this first hand. I work at Rio and was part of a few of the meetings between the staff and HR)
      You obviously don’t work in education and are ignorant to the laws. Regardless of whether you have a CCW, SB707 (which was signed into law in 2015 specifically to protect institutions of education) states that you have to follow certain parameters in order to have a gun on campus. Either you are a police officer or retired police officer, or you have written permission from the superintendent of the school AND your life is in danger. In this instance none of that was the case.
      It’s very irritating when factual information comes out and people who have no knowledge of what transpired feel it is there duty to tell people it’s no big deal to bring a gun on to a college campus. Yes there are some mistakes in this article (it was staff not students) but for the most part the information is correct and you shouldn’t dispute something that you have no first hand knowledge of.

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio, and as my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming.

    • RHCstaff says:

      Concealed carry without permission is still a felony. White male privilege allowed him to get away with it after reporting it to administration and allowed him to intimidate his staff. Bottom line, he broke the law. Is he afraid of working on at a Hispanic Serving Institution? The college has actually received funding as an HSI. Are there more racial issues at hand?

      • OMG says:

        here come the race baiters…

        • RHC_Director says:

          Knowing and having worked with Kummerman directly through my role on campus, this is accurate. There are undertones and aggression in his comments with staff and students. Students have come back to our program office crying after dealing with his director of development after she’s made assumptions about their background and inferences to their race, something he’s done as well. He also targets students from specific backgrounds to use them as a fundraising tactic but speaks badly of them when they aren’t around. He only hired his current director of the foundation because he’s friends with her husband from Rotary. Birds of a feather flock together. Many faculty and staff have been terminated for less. People have been walked off of campus by security for non-behavioral issues. Why should he be the exception? It’s a GUN and a FELONY.

        • David Stephen Siegrist says:

          As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

    • Roadrunner1 says:

      Permit or not, the head of Campus Safety should know better than to go against policies by bringing a concealed weapon on school grounds. That person should also know better than to lose/leave the loaded firearm in restroom stall. These actions deem the person unfit to protect the college, even in a “Barney Fife kind of way”. Furthermore, the college has a stellar police academy ON-SITE with highly trained officers that could better protect the campus and NOT lose or misplace their weapon.

      • David Stephen Siegrist says:

        As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

    • David Stephen Siegrist says:

      Misplaced gun? A simple mistake? OMG! I know of a number of killings resulting from misplaced guns. In Muscoy recently a grandfather’s misplaced gun was found by his four-year-old grandson. Result? The little finder used the misplaced gun to shoot and kill his two-year-old brother.

      As a former Board Member at Rio who represented El Monte for eight years, and on behalf of my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming. The Siegrist Family from El Monte. David Siegrist

  • Classified Staff says:

    I have corrected some of your statements:
    1. The incident occurred when RHCC Dean of Research and Planning Dr. Howard Kummerman, who is also the head of the Campus Safety Committee, brought the handgun on campus and somehow left it on top of a magazine in the men’s restroom in the campus inn available to staff only.
    2. The frightened staff members later wrote that they did not know if Kummerman still had the gun in his possession.
    3. Kummerman strongly indicated to the staff members that he wanted to “keep this in the family.”
    4. The next day on June 1, Kummerman held another “rah-rah” staff meeting trying to calm the staff members down, once again requesting to “keep it in the family.”
    5. He told the staff members that RHCC President-Superintendent Teresa Dreyfuss “was aware I was carrying a gun,” and said that both Dreyfuss and the head of Human Resources Loy Nashua were aware of the incident.
    6. Later that day, the staff members met with California School Employees Association Chapter President Sandra Rivera who told them to report the incident to the Sheriff’s. The two staff members immediately drove to the Sheriff’s and filed the report dated June 1.
    7. But school officials tried to keep the issue quiet for three days. The frightened staff members continued to work for Kummerman until it became unbearable, at which time they followed up with the Sheriff’s.
    8. The staff members indicated in their statements that the Pico Rivera Sheriff’s said they were “waiting on Nashua for direction to pursue criminal charges or let administration handle the situation.”
    9. HMG-CN left a message on President Dreyfuss’ voice mail, only to receive a response from her marketing director inviting HMG-CN to tomorrow night’s Board meeting.

    • Dr. Rhodes says:

      THANK YOU so much for the details, Classified Staff!

    • Friend of Rio Hondo says:

      While the core of this article is accurate, there are, as already stated, many major errors (e.g., mis-identifying classified staff as students). There are two fundamental problems here. First, are Mr. Kummerman’s actions: carrying a concealed weapon AND leaving it unattended on a college campus, knowing that is not only against college policy but also against the law; and meeting one-on-one with his employees and the next day as a group, asking them to “keep this in the family.” Second, is the administration’s response: President Dreyfuss did not immediately remove Mr. Kummerman from campus (he was finally asked to not return to campus following a mid-day off-campus meeting the day AFTER the gun incident); she actually encouraged Mr. Kummerman to meet with his staff, allowing him the opportunity to try to dissuade them from contacting police or anyone else; President Dreyfuss and Loy Nashua did not inform the Board or their administrative team until sometime the following week. A statement to the campus community came out a full week after the incident. Faculty who are not on campus during the summer months were not informed and are only finding out through word-of-mouth.
      Mr. Kummerman should be held accountable for knowingly breaking the law and going against campus policy and placing students, staff, and faculty at risk. President Dreyfuss and Loy Nashua should be held accountable for failure to maintain a safe campus and failure to respond to a serious safety issue in an appropriate and timely manner.
      My question: if this were a student, or a regular employee (say, a groundskeeper), would they be as casual about this as they are with an administrator? Somehow I don’t think so.

  • Not Surprised says:

    As a former manager at Rio Hondo College, I find this upsetting yet at the same time I am not surprised. If it were a classified staff member that did this, they would have been fired immediately. That was my experience observing the dfferences in treatment for employees, and it wasn’t comfortable. Because it was a manager, and one who happens to make the college and president look good, it appears he was given preferential treatment. I saw a lot of that when I was there. The administration can try to paint this as pleasant as they want, but those who worked or work there know what I mean. While it’s true that people make mistakes, that doesn’t mean our choices are without consequences. This man did something wrong, no matter his intent. Im sure the college never expected this to blow up the way it has, but now that it has they’re in the spotlight! Seems the President was allowing his many banked good deeds to blind her from protecting other staff – Classified staff. Why are their concerns being dismissed? Why aren’t they validating their fears and right for a non hostile work environment? Because that’s the “Rio Way!” Well Rio Hondo, people are watching…

    • David Stephen Siegrist says:

      As a former Board Member at Rio, and as my four family members who are all Rio Alums., this handling of the gun matter is most alarming.