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BB Gun, Not Real Gun, Used In UMass Amherst Assault


Prosecutors say the man charged with the assault that led to the lockdown of the UMass Amherst campus last week was not armed with a real gun.

William McKeown was freed on $7,500 bail and placed under house arrest with GPS monitoring after entering not guilty pleas in court. Steven Gagne, an assistant district attorney, said the assault and robbery charges McKeown still faces were amended because he did not have an actual firearm.

" Based on further investigation we have conducted, we've concluded it was not a real firearm, or handgun involved in this altercation. It was actually a BB gun," Gagne said outside the Eastern Hampshire Districrt Court in Belchertown Wednesday.

Police allege McKeown and another man were let into a residence hall to sell marijuana before McKeown struck the victim on the head with the BB gun and stole $120.

Reports of armed men on campus prompted a two-hour shelter-in place order.

McKeown and the accomplice, who is still at large, are not UMass students.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.