Dressed all in black with military-style pants and dark sunglasses, Andrea Massa stood out from the crowd of families who filed into Boston University’s graduation ceremonies Sunday, and drew immediate notice from security.
When an officer approached with a metal detector, the 28-year-old objected loudly, according to police, and walked briskly away.
Concerned by his outburst and his refusal to submit to screening, police followed and ordered Massa to stop after noticing that he appeared to be carrying a gun.
After a search, police found that Massa was carrying two guns, both fully loaded semiautomatic handguns. Massa was also carrying two additional magazines.
That account emerged in court Monday, where Massa was ordered held on $100,000 bail after pleading not guilty to unlawfully carrying a firearm on school grounds and disturbing a public assembly.
“It caused a great security scare,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Glennon said
at Massa’s arraignment in Brighton District Court.
Massa’s lawyer, Charles Humphreys, said Massa “had no intention to harm anyone” and believed that his hunting license allowed him to carry handguns legally.
“He believed he was within the law,” Humphreys said. “There's no question there’s ignorance and naivete involved.”
Glennon said that Massa left the security checkpoint as soon as he realized he would be screened, indicating he knew he should not have brought the weapons.
According to a report filed by BU police, Massa passed the security tables without notice, but was quickly stopped by an officer who had seen him approaching.
Massa told a security officer he had already been screened and asked, “What are the unauthorized items?” according to the report.
When the police officer touched him in an effort to guide him toward security, Massa “quickly spun away from me, saying ‘No, don’t touch me,’ ” according to the report.
When police followed him, they noticed him texting. Humphreys said he was texting his wife that he was not going to be able to get into the ceremony.
At the hearing, Glennon noted a 2003 episode in Scituate in which Massa allegedly expressed a desire to “shoot all of my teachers.” Humphreys said that case was dismissed.
Judge Patricia Bernstein ordered a preliminary mental health evaluation, which found Massa competent.
Through his lawyer, Massa said he had no history of mental illness. Massa was ordered by the judge to surrender his weapons and stay away from BU and other schools. His next court date is June 19.
Massa was attending the ceremony with his wife, whose sister was graduating, said Humphreys.
Massa, who lives in Marshfield, is a physical therapist who works in a rehabilitation facility on the South Shore.Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.