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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.”

 

 

 

 

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